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9:50 AM | Posted in
I just learned from Blue Man that a local treasure from my hometown is slatted to be torn down. Take a moment and add your name to the petition so that we can save a local treasure.

Grand Forks city council is talking about demolishing town's historic water tower. The water tower, named Mr. Smiley, has been greeting visitors and putting smiles on people's faces since the 1970s.
City council believes that stripping it of its current paint, and repainting would cost more than tearing it down, therefore demolishing it would be the best option.

It is unfortunate that we feel the need to destroy the unique local landmarks that make our town's special under the guise of saving a little bit of money.
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While I applaud the effort to keep children safe from predator's that lurk on the internet, it seems like an unworkable proposition to make it illegal for them to access social networking sites. Such is the case with House File 130 being co-authored by Representative Severson (R).

How does one effectively police this type of situation? The only way someone is found to be an online sexual predator is typically after the damage has been done. If your goal is keeping children safe, we need to find ways to stop the initial predatory act.

After this point, how many resources will it take to police their internet usage and online memberships? How much liability is there on the part of these sites to keep predator's such as the ones described in this bill of of their membership rolls? These are but some of the questions that I have when dealing with laws of this nature.

I would suggest that a far more effective solution would be continued and increased education for those youngsters who are most vulnerable to being seduced by an online predator. Related to this legislation is a recent study (although somewhat controversial) that makes the claim that children are safer online than we had previously thought. In fact, the study indicates that children are far more likely to be harrassed and bullied online by someone they know than be subject to an online sexual predator.
There are plenty of issues on which Steve Gottwalt (R) and I disagree but the process of governance works best when you find those issues that you do agree upon and work together. Such is the case with House File 224.

I question the need to put a Constitutional Amendment out there for what appears to be no other reason than reacting or over reacting to the current recount process. However, the one piece of the legislation that I think is common sense is the formation of retention elections for judges in the state.

As it is, there are very few people in the state who pay even the slightest attention to judicial candidates on the ballot. My theory has always been that if I haven't heard of them then they must be doing just fine and deserve to remain seated. A retention election would essentially put my theory into practice. Rather than a process by which people use any number of schemes to pick their judicial vote, they can simply decide yes or no on should this person keep their seat. Let's hope this bill gets the attention it deserves...
Earlier this month I posted a DFL press conference introducing House File 2 which will drastically change the way public education in Minnesota is financed. In order to get a clearer picture of this legislation, I sent off some questions to one of the bills co-authors, Representative Larry Haws. I have taken the liberty of mixing his answers with some of my own commentary:

The key benefit of this new system will be a simplification of public school funding coupled with increases in state aid and reductions in property taxes. The current system creates a situation in which those areas that can continually raise the property tax revenue to adequately fund schools are doing so while those economically impoverished areas are left with substandard services, not because they don't care about education but because their populations simply cannot handle property tax load. It is creating a system of haves and have nots in public education.

One of the key components that I like and that Haws explained in his response email is the phase in portion of the legislation. Rather than a simple switch over and influx of money into the system, the new Minnesota Miracle is open ended and its phase in period will be determined as it travels through committee and floor analysis.

Sec. 41. PHASE-IN.
Subdivision 1. Baseline revenue. A school district's baseline revenue equals the
revenue amounts for the aid appropriations calculated under Minnesota Statutes, section
126C.20, calculated using the current year's data and the revenue formulas in place in
Minnesota Statutes 2008.
Subd. 2. New revenue. A school district's new revenue equals the revenue amounts
for the aid appropriations calculated under Minnesota Statutes, section 126C.20, calculated
using the current year's data and the revenue formulas in place under this act.
Subd. 3. Phase-in schedule. A school district's revenue amounts for the revenue
formulas listed in subdivisions 1 and 2 equals the district's baseline revenue plus the
percent of the difference specified in subdivision 4 multiplied by the number of years
of the phase-in specified in subdivision 5.
Subd. 4. Percentage. The phase-in percentage equals ... percent.
Subd. 5. Years of phase-in. The new revenue under this section is phased-in over
.. years.
EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective July 1, 2009.

Directly from the email:

Here are a few specifics and benefits of the bill:

  • Increases formula allowance to $7500, indexed to implicit price deflator.
  • Uses a scalable blueprint that can be phased in over several years.
  • Equalizes the pupil weighting system for students in kindergarten through high school to 1.0.
  • Enhances compensatory aid and funding for English language learners.
  • Fully funds voluntary all-day kindergarten
  • Fully funds state special education costs by removing existing caps.
  • Includes a levy referendum offset of $500 per pupil in districts with levies; provides $500 per pupil to districts without a levy in place.
  • Accounts for declining enrollment in every geographic region of the state.
  • Includes innovation and accountability measures including a requirement that a district use 5 % of its basic revenue for innovative, research-based programs to improve academic performance.
  • Creates a new school bond agricultural credit equal to 66 percent of the property tax on agricultural properties attributable to school bond levies. This will help promote equitable funding to rural districts, as it will help rural districts more easily pass referenda--if school districts and voters agree that they are needed.

Unfortunately, in this economic climate I am not sure how much enthusiasm there will be to this kind of wholesale overhaul of the current system. The bill appears to be sound and take into account just this kind of issue with its phase in but only time will tell if it can gain momentum in the state legislature. My hope is that my representative, Larry Haws, will help make this bill happen.
One of the current bills working its way through the Minnesota House of Representatives, is meant to examine and possibly eliminate unnecessary or burdensome state mandates placed on lower levels of government in the state of Minnesota.

Section 1. ELIMINATING STATE MANDATES.
Subdivision 1. Intent; purpose. To ensure that public services are delivered as
cost-effectively as possible, it is the intent of the legislature to eliminate unnecessary
state regulations and mandates. By July 1, 2010, mandates or regulations that result in
unnecessary paperwork, are redundant, or contain outdated or irrelevant requirements
shall be eliminated or revised. Requirements that are necessary to protect the health
and well-being of Minnesotans or that are necessary to meet federal requirements shall
not be eliminated.
Subd. 2. State mandate review. Any county, city, school district, professional
association, or other entity affected by state mandates may submit to the legislature a
list of mandates that are required by state statute or rule that the entity determines to be
unnecessary or in need of reform. The legislature shall review the mandates that have
been submitted.


Representative Haws (DFL) has been on the state mandates kick ever since his first election to the Minnesota House and I applaud him for making good on this particular promise. Any time that we can reevaluate programs, rules, and regulations to make things run more smoothly we should do that. In fact, this bill should be more than a one time event. We should be carrying out these evaluations on a yearly basis. My only problem with such legislation is the possibility that certain mandates that are effective and useful to one part of the state will be cut entirely if another part of the state deems them unnecessary. My hope is that these mandate reviews will take this possibility into account and the result will be effective government throughout the state.
A while back I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with some local representatives in order to find out about their priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Representative Hosch (DFL) made it clear that his primary focus is improving health care and that it is from that that other problems and issues could be addressed.

He currently is working with Representative Seifert (R) and Representative Thissen (DFL) to, as I understand the legislation, provide oversight to rural health care cooperatives whose goal is controlling costs and improving access to vital health services.

I sent off some questions to Representative Hosch so that he might explain this legislation:
*Is this legislation addressing a specific problem in the health care system?
*How, specifically, does this legislation improve access to health care in rural areas?

Typically, I am of the opinion that we need large scale reform of the health care system whether through single payer or universal health care. However, I am also a pragmatist and realize that if the choice is between fixing part of the problem or fixing nothing because we can't come to an agreement over the solutions, then we need to be fixing the parts that we can agree upon.
9:34 AM | Posted in
Why oh why have you forsaken us, Mr. Obama? After being in office for five days I have yet to see my street paved with gold nor have I been given my complimentary pile of money from the wealthy you promised to bilk in my honor. The Republicans claimed you would do all these things and I was excited for your victory but it has not yet come to pass. Isn't five days enough to get us out of war, remake the economy so that there are no poor, and solve all the problems Bush left us with? Maybe next week?

On to the weekly romp
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I learned this week that Tim Walz is obviously a secret socialist menace. Why else would he get excited to be "called into service" by the Socialist-in-Chief? Come on, Mr. Walz, no one who isn't a full blown communist sympathizer would want to hear about the "common good". Note to Michele Bachmann: I found the first person for that investigation you were talking about!

You know something, it is really damned annoying when you lefties write reasonable and logically sound posts. Why can't you just call for wealthy people to become slaves of the poor? At least then I would be able to recognize your evilness as described by the righties. So, KNOCK IT OFF!

Before you click on THIS LINK, let me set the scene for you. First, you must keep fresh in your mind the image to the left. Second, you must visualize this little boy writing this post while stomping his foot in whiny annoyance. Finally, you need to think to yourself how unfair it is that Democrats keep conservative members of their party in the ranks while Republicans beat down and kick out anyone who might have the slightest scent of liberal. Actually, you don't even need to read the post because I pretty much gave you the gist of it.




I am in total agreement HERE! I know that when I used the, 'he did it first' defense with parents and other authority figures it always came across as a well reasoned argument. Perhaps next you could use the ever popular 'liar liar pants on fire' retort or the 'I'm rubber your glue' defense. Maybe, just maybe taking your ball and going home will endear you to the people.

Hey man, lay off Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney! These two guys have had a lot of work to do over the past eight years. Between making a mediocre President look good by sheer comparison and defending the mind-boggling stupidity of decisions made by this administration, they are bound to be worn out and tired.

Wait one hot minute! Didn't we learn over the past eight years that protest and dissent are BAD THINGS? Congratulations, Paulites and other righties, for making protest acceptable again although it is really weird that you are resurrecting this practice on the day we changed to a Democratic Administration. Well, I guess you know best! In other news, the communications team that makes Michele Bachmann look oh so good is branching out to make other Republican leaders come off just as super awesome. You would think they would be tired from all the spin they had to provide for Bachmann.

Yes, thank you President Bush! Thank You for not locking me up in one of your secret prison's. Thank You for not waterboarding me. Thank You for listening in to my phone calls because quite frankly, I need monitoring. Thank You for making me believe again that merely average is plenty good for the White House. Thank You for explaining that a country with no logical connections to 9/11 is the OBVIOUS front for the war on terror. THANK YOU!

NO, Mr. Truscott, this country is NOT about any big dream! It is about twisting and manipulating the words of other people so as to make them look like they hate America and are therefore unfit to run this country. So, take your fancy schmancy word prayers and begin the attacking because we have no place in American politics and life for people that are going to be all common sense and concilliatory. See, I knew you could do it!

Nobody likes hope and change. Why can't we embrace fear and inaction once again?

But if we end the culture war, what the hell are we going to write about on our blogs?

Is it at all ironic that a member of the hard right would use the writings and beliefs of a man who grew out of the Unitarian Church (i.e. liberal group that denies the divinity of Christ as well as the trinity) and was once a member of Brook Farm (a utopian community based on the principle of cooperation) to lambast the utopian sentiments of Barack Obama?

Yes, more thank you's to President Bush for doing what you "thought" was right even though the majority of the WORLD knew you were wrong. It takes a true leader to give a middle finger to the world and do whatever you want. Oh, and by the way, I LOVE the liberals are bring on the apocalypse meme. It warms my heart to know that striving for peace and working towards an end to racism really piss off the Lord enough to bring him down to smite us. God demands WAR and HATRED!

DAMN IT PEOPLE, who went and spilled the beans that 'progressive' is code word for America hating super communist? Whoever you are, you are soooo kicked out of the club! Apparently, singing "Hey, Hey... Goodbye!" to the outgoing President is extremely hateful but calling on people to "pull a sirhan sirhan" on Barack Obama well that is just a reasonable response to someone with whom you have philosophical disagreements. Are we clear?

I cannot believe that the Republican Party or conservatives would LIE! I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

The two things I learned from skimming this week:
  • Eric Black liked the speech but was too verbose and analytical for me to care why he liked the speech.
Really, Matt Entenza? Really?

Well of course poor people and labor unions are the problem! Don't you get it? Labor Unions are bad because then we have to pay people a reasonable wage and poor people need to just get off their butts and work three or four jobs. That way, we will be able to pay them substantially less without unionization and we will have three to four times the workforce. It is an economic stimulus that is destined for greatness!

Don't you just love it when old myths re-emerge?

There are few things that fill me with more soaring optimism than reading the writings of one Andy Aplikowski. He truly is a national treasure of the American spirit!

Did the party of George W. Bush just accuse someone else of hubris? Oh, will the hilarity never end?

Why oh why must we demand accountability and results from charter schools! Never mind that they do no better than their public school counterparts, we need to give them free reign and lots of extra money. As for those damned public schools, we demand results and don't tell us money will solve the problem! Does that about sum it up, Mitch?

If God told you to do something and you failed, then does that make God a failure as well? Just a thought...

Are you telling me that the DFL leadership PROMOTED a conservative Democrat to positions of power? I thought we were supposed to be weeding these people out and demanding ideological purity? I totally joined the wrong party...

His first mistake? Really? What about being a terrorist loving super secret muslim communist hell bent on destroying America?

It seems as though Jeff Rosenberg is "tracking" the Minnesota Legislature. I wonder how he was able to get all those tags on all those members of our state government. Do you think he had any trouble tranquilizing Seifert? That guy doesn't go down easy I bet!

I really hate it when I agree with someone at True North! Will you people just stick to writing about how much liberals, unions, poor people, gays, and immigrants suck so that we can stop this bipartisan agreement CRAP. By the way, if your son wore that shirt to my public school I would have a good laugh and then congratulate him on being politically active at such a young age. Not the response you were hoping for, huh?
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9:09 AM | Posted in ,


You can visit the newly designed White House website as well as follow the President on the youtube page they have created. Also, you can check out recovery.gov...
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This week, Representative Walz offered an amendment to the TARP legislation. As always, Walz is demanding greater transparency of all funds and actions of our federal government.

The amendment is very simple, and it simply states online publication of periodic reports. The Secretary shall make publicly available on the Internet each report made in accordance with paragraph one. That simply says, at least quarterly, they will put out how they are spending our money.



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.
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This week, Amy Klobuchar took to the floor of the United States Senate in order to voice her support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The measure passed by a 61-36 vote and is currently on its way to the desk of President Obama where he will almost certainly sign it into law.




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.
This week, Keith Ellison spent some time on the floor of the House of Representatives discussing the goals and beliefs of the Progressive Caucus. Specifically, he discussed a report 'Reining in the Imperial Presidency' and a bill (HR 104) that would investigate former President George W. Bush over issues of torture and illegal wire tapping.

There is established the National Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the `Commission') to investigate the broad range of policies of the Administration of President George W. Bush that were undertaken under claims of unreviewable war powers, including detention by the United States Armed Forces and the intelligence community, the use by the United States Armed Forces or the intelligence community of enhanced interrogation techniques or interrogation techniques not authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, `ghosting' or other policies intended to conceal the fact that an individual has been captured or detained, extraordinary rendition, domestic warrantless electronic surveillance, and other policies that the Commission may determine to be relevant to its investigation (hereinafter in this Act referred to as `the activities').





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.
I pondered for some time what to do in my classroom for Inauguration Day. It didn't seem appropriate for me to simply turn the television on, sit back, and let a day slip through my fingers without some greater lesson being taught. So, as a class we began by examining the oath of office as laid out in the Constitution:

Oath of Office
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Actually, after today my students probably knew the wording of the oath better than Chief Justice John Roberts (*wink*). As a class we took the words and rewrote the oath using synonyms. Full Disclosure: That idea was borrowed from other sources...

Rather than simply focusing on the speech of Barack Obama, we took a look at the Inaugural Addresses of five of our most famous President's. However, 8th graders are not well suited to reading and understanding the full context of these speeches so I plugged each of them into wordle. This allowed students to examine the broad themes and main ideas of the speeches rather than get bogged down in detailed language.

Students were asked to examine the word clouds without knowing what President or even what time period from which they originated. As they looked over each one their task was to discover and write about the commonalities running through each, discover and write about the differences running through each, and finally write about anything unique they found within each speech.

President ?

President ?

President ?

President ?

President ?
While I wish I had more time to really dig into this activity, the kids did a great job finding the basic themes that ran through the speeches of these five important President's. They were even able to figure out which speech belonged to which President for three out of the five. You can try out this activity in the comment section...

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to looking at some of the modern addresses which have been captured for posterity. Check them out for yourself:

And today, Barack Obama...
8:45 PM | Posted in
It seems that I have been taken to task by Mitch Berg over some remarks that I made about him in the weekly romp:

HOLY CRAP, the Democratic leadership in Congress is pushing the Fairness Doctrine. Who are the magical creatures that can pass a doctrine without nary a bill in existence? Seriously, I thought Mitch Berg was supposed to be the smart one.

I was greeted with not just a pithy comment from Mr. Berg but an entire post devoted to myself and my obvious ignorance over an issue that he "genuinely" cares about. Well, he got one thing right: I couldn't care less about the fairness doctrine. I have little interest in seeing this doctrine reinstated as it probably helps my cause more than it hurts and I also find a tiny bit of sadomasochistic pleasure in listening to some of these yahoos (not you Mitch!).

Yet, a few things confused my obviously feeble brain in this new and improved post about the Fairness Doctrine. Perhaps someone, even the always logical Berg, could assist me in unraveling this collection of seemingly contradictory statements.

In the original post which I was referring to and mocking, Berg makes this statement:

The liberal response is “But President Obama isn’t pushing the Fairness Doctrine”.

I answer “he’s not President for five more days, and it doesn’t matter; the Democrat leadership in Congress is, and I doubt Obama would waste a veto to protect Conservative talk.

However, in this new and improved post, I learned:

And - just so’s you learn something, LITLOC - let’s be clear; Congress needn’t pass a single bill to reinstate the “Fairness” Doctrine. If Obama puts three pro-Doctrine members on the FCC Board, the “Doctrine” can become fact again by executive fiat; no legislation will be needed, beyond confirmation hearings. This, indeed, is the most dangerous scenario for supporters of free speech; Obama (and the smarter Dems) don’t want to pee on the third rail by legislating censorship - but how much political capital do you think Obama will burn getting in the way of an allied bureaucracy doing it for them?

So, at first the threat is coming from Congress and it doesn't matter that Barack Obama actually doesn't have any interest in reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine. Did you see that? The original thesis of Mr. Berg is that Obama doesn't really matter in this whole deal. Then, when I point out that in the two years Congress has been controlled by Democrats there have been ZERO attempts to bring back the dreaded DOCTRINE, I am smacked down because I am obviously STUPID for using the premise of his post and assuming he was referring to some imminent bill being pushed by Congressional leadership. Why am I stupid for using his own premise? Well, that is because Congress doesn't matter and the REAL threat is Barack Obama who could secretly appoint Pro-Doctrine FCC members even though we have already established that Obama has no interest in bringing this back.

Did you get that? I'll try to sum it up...

Congress is the REAL threat because they are going to bring back the Fairness Doctrine (even though NO ONE has put the issue into legislation form) but Barack Obama is the REALLY REAL threat because he is going to secretly appoint Pro-Doctrine FCC members (even though he has already said that he has no interest in doing so).

WOW, this guy really is the smart one...
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10:23 AM | Posted in
It has taken us an extra 40 years and we may not have reached that promised land of which you spoke but we have arrived at the mountaintop. We too can see the promised land and with a little luck and your continued guidance the dream will be fulfilled...



I took the 'I Have a Dream' speech and plugged it into wordle:
Let us all hope that our new President can take up the mantle of Dr. King and lead this nation further down the road to the promised land.
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2:20 PM | Posted in
I am currently in the middle of a redesign of the blog. However, I am having some trouble with a couple items:

Longer post titles are spilling into the post content for some inexplicable reason. If you have any advice on how to solve such a problem, let me know so that I can resolve this problem.

When I view the blog, I see two small question marks in between each post. Is anyone else seeing this? Ideally, I would like to remove these elements but need some advice on how to make it happen.

Everything should be completed by the end of the day today. Let me know what you think or if you have trouble with any features...
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4:24 PM | Posted in ,


Organizing for America will continue the work of the largest grassroots movement in history. Volunteers, grassroots leaders, and ordinary citizens will drive this organization and help bring about the changes we proposed during the presidential campaign.

For more information visit: http://www.barackobama.com/

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2:30 PM | Posted in
Due to the faltering economy and various other budgetary concerns, the daily romp through the Minnesota blogosphere has been consolidated into a weekly romp published each Saturday. This new version will have five times more links and double the snark of the daily version.

As a teacher I am consistently confronted with the problem of grade inflation in our society. People are under the impression that they deserve to get an 'A' simply because they TRIED to make the right choice. While trying is admirable and one should never give up, when you try and try but are wrong over and over it may be time to reexamine the process by which you come to these conclusions. Sure, you made some tough decisions but the simple task of making a decision when that decision is so very wrong doesn't get you an 'A'. The very best you can do when trying but consistently failing is an 'F' or perhaps a 'D' if you are trying your damnedest but aren't intellectually cut out for the assignment. We as a society have got to stop heralding mediocrity and giving too much credit for simple participation...

[Photo from TIME Quote of the Day]

On to your new and hopefully improved weekly romp:

You can always count on Ollie Ox to seek out and destroy media outlets who dare spread falsehoods about Congressman Tim Walz much like a raging bull rumbling through the streets of Pamplona. As I and others have noted before, when you mess with the Ox don't be surprised when you get the horns! Although, her obsession with felines and livestock may have caused her to slip a bit this week. Also this week, it appears as though Walz wants to remain poor and even force every other member of Congress to live in poverty! I understand, Representative Walz, that YOU are used to living like a pauper given your background as a teacher but what about these other members will be unable to survive on less than $174,000?

Charlie Quimby did an excellent job this week of tearing Timmy Pawlenty and his kitchen table meme limb from limb. The idea that families or businesses would ONLY cut and not attempt to find new sources of income is entirely ludicrous. In the past six years I have been forced from time to time to work jobs in addition to my teaching duties. Yes we cut some things but we found that there were so few areas that we could cut that more income was the wiser decision.

ALERT! Tim Pawlenty is Ronald Reagan back from the dead... Also, when using a well known phrase that was not actually used by the person it is associated with, could you please come within at least a mile of using it properly? Just a thought...

So, in the past 100 years it has been a Democrat that involved the United States in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War but we are OBVIOUSLY weak on national security. When you put these words you use together, do you actually look at the order in which you put them or do you just HOPE they will fall into a coherent message? Oh, I get it, words carry little meaning for you and thus you bear no responsibility for the ones you use. Sorry, I was under the impression that words had both meaning and history behind them.

Jeff Fecke is still obsessed with that Bush fellow and is only on post #10 of what will undoubtedly be a 2,920 post journey to effectively catalogue the worst moments of the Bush Administration. Can't we just reitterate that this guy was a sub par waste of oval office space and move on?

Why is it that conservatives and George W. Bush always take pride in not following the polls? Doesn't that mean they decided to tell the majority of citizens that their opinion doesn't matter? Isn't our government based on the will of the people? Perhaps consistently telling the majority of Americans that their voice doesn't matter and you are just going to do whatever you want is the reason that you are now in the minority. Seriously folks, this post mocks itself far better than I ever could...

Chris Truscott wants a special session ALREADY? I think he just wants to see a three person tag team match between Kelliher/Sertich/Pogemiller and Pawlenty/Seifert/Senjem...

There are few things I enjoy more than seeing conservatives misinterpret the spanking they received from this past election season. Be MORE conservative and unbending in your ideology, THAT is the ticket!

You really have to giggle at the delusional fear of some conservatives to the incoming Administration. Are you scared that the Bush Administration is secretly listening to everyone's calls? NOPE, but I sure am scared that Obama was on a board once with a washed up hippy and that he will shut down talk radio even though there is no evidence to support such a claim.

That Tim Pawlenty is such a liberal commie pinko! Why won't he just cut that damned education because nobody needs know learnin'! When you believe that Pawlenty isn't conservative ENOUGH, you need to know that you are one of the fringe elements of your party. However, you should keep fighting for that TRUE conservative because it really has worked out well so far!

The six things I learned this week from skimming:
  1. President Bush is super awesome because he didn't allow a SECOND terrorist attack.
  2. How to take a report about shifting priorities and turn it into an admonishment of government in general. That one must have taken some serious time and energy to spin...
  3. I wish I had time out of my work schedule to participate in midday conference calls on how to effectively deny children the access to health care.
  4. Tommy Rukavina is a communist for keeping ALL options on the table when fixing the budget deficit...
  5. Involving the electorate in the decision making process means you are a bad legislator. Man I hate democracy SO much!
  6. When all else fails, attack Tarryl Clark with some of your patented faux outrage...
ALERT! ALERT! Aaron Brown is trying to lead another Revolution the purpose of which will be to seperate the Iron Range from Minnesota and possibly the United States itself. However, I could be wrong because I read it pretty fast...

Jeff Rosenberg got all nitpicky with his analysis of the state of state address. Really, isn't just saying the word CUTS sufficient enough for him to be heralded as making the tough decisions? It has taken considerable time and energy for Governor Pawlenty to defund sensible government thereby making it look bad enough so he can ultimately dismantle it. Can't you give the guy a little credit?

HEY, he isn't devoid of ideas! His ideas are just so devoid of common sense that it SEEMS like there isn't an idea there.

Few things warm my heart more than a nonsensical tirade in which someone claims their minority opinion as the opinion of the majority. I am no psychologist but isn't that a projection fantasy or delusions of grandeur or something like that? See, I told you it was a good principle that when all else fails, attack Tarryl Clark. GOSH, I cannot imagine who the "observer" is in this post...

In whose world is Mike Huckabee a socialist? How far down the right end of the spectrum do you need to travel in order to look at Huckabee and come to this conclusion? You guys keep throwing them under the bus and you will win for certain! I PROMISE!

HOLY CRAP, the Democratic leadership in Congress is pushing the Fairness Doctrine. Who are the magical creatures that can pass a doctrine without nary a bill in existence? Seriously, I thought Mitch Berg was supposed to be the smart one.

Apparently having someone who is gay in the military will demoralize the whole place. Really? I cannot imagine thinking to myself, "I just simply cannot fight because I am so worried that Joe is GAY". Get over it people...

At the same time, do we really have to get all bent out of shape that Barack Obama will use the word 'God' at his inauguration? Focus people, there are far more important issues with which to be concerned.

Joe the Plumber is an idiot. That is all...

I am not going to speak directly about the various posts up this week by Jeff Rosenberg. Why? Because somebody needs to find this Rosenberg fellow and kick the crap out of him. Seriously folks, this guy is making us look bad with his overly detailed analysis, his handy dandy charts, and all of the little features he keeps rolling out. Why can't he just copy and paste a bunch of stuff like the rest of us. It's time to round up the posse...

Oh, those crafty Democrats and their schemes to destroy the economy over the last eight years and then swoop in and fix the whole damn mess! Next time could you teach us how to make high quality tin foil hats? Also, Can someone please define for me the term, "conservative movie", and then explain to me what makes each one of these "conservative".
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I did not catch the entire state of the state address yesterday. However, I have been able to cobble together some thoughts from the snippets I did hear and from the thoughts of others around the blogs.

As usual, Pawlenty and the Republican caucuses in both the House and the Senate are more interested in rigid ideology than placing ALL options on the table and finding the least painful combination of all those options. Nobody likes a tax increase but that doesn't mean it should be removed from consideration. Neither do people like to see massive cuts in state programs but those ought not be taken off the table either.

What we need is some targeted tax fairness in this state. To continue forcing the burden of financing programs on the backs of middle income Minnesotans is unconscionable. I am more than willing to pay my fair share but others should be required to pay their fair share as well.

Tim Pawlenty wants to continue claiming that the QComp program is a merit pay system when it is NOT and has NEVER been...

The DFL leadership in the House and Senate sent out a press release response to the Pawlenty speech. As usual, I am proud to live in the district of Senator Tarryl Clark:

"We need jobs, not slogans," said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark. "The House and Senate will continue to focus on building our economy by helping to create and retain jobs while streamlining government. We look forward to seeing the governor's budget later this month and getting public input so we can get a more complete view of how his vision for the state will affect people."
1:28 PM | Posted in ,
Yesterday, Representative Keith Ellison voiced his support for releasing TARP funds from the floor of the House of Representatives.

The fact is that this piece of legislation, carefully crafted and now working with an amenable and a cooperative administration, is in a much better position to meet the needs set forth in the original legislation, which is to help homeowners. The bill requires at least $40 billion, but no more than $100 billion, be used to help distressed homeowners.



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.
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10:32 PM | Posted in ,
Senator Klobuchar took to the floor of the United States Senate to voice her support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. The bill is a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling that there are time limits on pay discrimination lawsuits. For more information, you can visit the National Organization of Women background info page.



It is a sad reality that--88 years after the 19th amendment gave women equal voting power, and 45 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act--it still takes women 16 months to earn what men can earn in 12 months.

When I travel around my State and talk to the women in my State, I find these women are not simply looking for a handout or preferential treatment. All they are asking for is a fair and equal chance to make a fair and decent living. That is why it is so important the Senate take up the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on the Senate floor this week.

This important legislation will reverse a 2007 Supreme Court ruling--Ledbetter v. Goodyear--that significantly limited the rights of individuals to sue for gender-based

discrimination. The facts that gave rise to Lilly Ledbetter's case have been told, but I think they should be told again. She was a hard worker. People can picture her right now. I have met her many times. She is a delightful person. She worked at Goodyear Tire as a manager for 20 years.

When she started, all the employees at the manager level started at the same pay. She knew she was getting the same pay as the men doing the same job. But early in her tenure as manager, the company went to a ``merit-based'' pay system.

Payment records were kept confidential, as they are in many companies, and Lilly did not think to ask what her male colleagues were making. She was happy to be a manager. She did not think to look at her pay raise and to ask if the men in the department were getting the same pay the day the paychecks came out. I do not think many people think about running around and asking their colleagues if they are getting the same amount of money for the same work.

As the years passed by, the pay differential between what she made and what the male managers were making just kept getting bigger. It was only after getting an anonymous note from a coworker telling her she was not paid as much as the male managers that she finally realized what was happening. Soon after getting that note, she filed a legal complaint. But that was many years after the discrimination began.

At trial, Lilly Ledbetter was easily able to prove discrimination. She could show what she did, she could show what the men did, and she could show the difference in pay. In fact, the jury found that sex discrimination accounted for a pay differential of as great as 25 percent between Lilly and her male counterparts. You can think about how that adds up over 20 years of working.

However, Goodyear appealed the jury's ruling, and the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, decided that Lilly filed her case too late. Essentially, they ruled she would have had to have filed within 180 days of Goodyear making its first discriminatory act.

Now, you ask, how would she have known this unless she was nosey and going around trying to look at people's paychecks? But this, as absurd as it sounds, is what the Court said.

Although the Court's decision completely ignores the realities of the workplace--that employee records are confidential and there is no reasonable way to know when discrimination starts--we now have an opportunity to bring the realities to light.

We should pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and allow a claim to be filed as long as the paychecks reflecting discrimination continue to be issued. In doing so, we will restore the original intent of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act.
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Below you will find a word picture of the farewell addresses of President Bush and President Clinton. Similarities? Differences?

The biggest difference I noticed is the prominence of words such as prosperity and economy in the Clinton address although I cannot imagine why they are missing from the Bush address...

George W. Bush Farewell Address


Bill Clinton Farewell Address
10:32 AM | Posted in ,
Congress recently took up SCHIP legislation again and my favorite Congressman, Tim Walz, got up to speak in favor of the bill. Unfortunately, my representation continues to be a roadblock to providing children with necessary health coverage.

Usually, as with all things Tim Walz, I would look to Ollie Ox and Bluestem Prairie for additional information about this vote. It looks like someone got usurped as the breaker of news pertaining to Walz.



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.
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DFL leaders this week held a press conference to discuss the introduction of House File 2. The bill would change the system by which we finance education.



It sounds a little too good to be true and I will not be holding my breath this session hoping that this new system will be implemented. However, I did send off an email to Representative Larry Haws (DFL) to answer some of the questions I have about the bill.
6:21 PM | Posted in ,
A bill floated into the Labor & Consumer Protection Division in the Minnesota Legislature today whose purpose appears to be giving those people who have subprime mortgages that are heading into foreclosure the opportunity to defer said foreclosure.

"Emergency Help For Homeowners in Foreclosure: IMPORTANT: You are eligible to have the foreclosure of your home stopped until at least (end of deferment period). The state of Minnesota recently passed a law that lets homeowners stop a foreclosure sale. To qualify, you must currently live at the home in foreclosure and intend to live at the home until the end of the deferment period. You will also need to complete and sign a special form (called an "affidavit") and provide that affidavit to us at the following address: (insert address in the state of Minnesota). There are many government agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help you complete this affidavit. For the name and telephone number of an organization near you, please call the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) at (insert telephone number/Web site). The state does not guarantee the advice of these agencies. Do not delay dealing with the foreclosure because your options for foreclosure deferment end with the foreclosure sale."

Someone is going to have to help me out on this one because the way I read it is that there is no restructuring of the mortgage or stopping of the foreclosure so that the occupant might be able to remain in the home. It is simply to delay the occupants from being removed from the home. Aside from giving them more time to find a new residence, what is the purpose of this bill? Also, my reading indicates that there is a sunset for this bill which would mean someone applying for deferment towards the end of this act would not be afforded much time.

While it seems like a good idea, I am somewhat confused about how this will positively affect those people struggling with a subprime mortgage.
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10:45 PM | Posted in ,
There has been some controversy over the 'present' vote by Keith Ellison on H.RES 34. The resolution supports the right of Israel to defend itself. These are his comments before the vote in question:



Madam Speaker, I come to the floor today torn about this resolution. Though I welcome resolutions by the Congress to express support for the people of Israel and Gaza at this difficult time, this resolution does not do enough to move towards a stable and durable peace in the Middle East.

I feel that I cannot vote against the resolution, because I believe every country has a right to defend itself. I have been to Sderot, and I have seen firsthand both the physical and emotional destruction caused by the rockets.

Last fall I voted for a resolution specifically condemning the rocket attacks into Israel. However, I feel I cannot vote for this resolution either, because it does not sufficiently address the human suffering by Palestinians in Gaza. Over 750 people have been killed, 250 of them children, 50 of them women, with over 3,000 people injured.

Mosques have been bombed, schools as well. Even before the recent military operation, life for the people in Gaza has become increasingly unlivable under a crushing blockade. The Red Cross has been obstructed, 800,000 people without water, 1 million people without electricity.

That is why I intend to vote ``present'' today. Hopefully we can urge this Congress to not simply declare its support of its ally, but will actually move its ally and the rest of the region toward a more durable, sustainable, final solution to this conflict.

History has shown that ground troops and air strikes have not resolved conflict in the Middle East. If we try to resolve conflict with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before. No one will be. Diplomacy is necessary to save lives and yield a lasting peace with security.

The United States must play a more active role in pursuing real peace in the Middle East.
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9:20 PM | Posted in , ,
Given my current workload and my new need to spend three hours every night putting a two year old to bed over and over and over again, I am going to suspend the daily romp through the Minnesota blogosphere. There just isn't enough time in the day to effectively mock and ridicule the excellent blogs throughout the state.

However, I will be doing a weekly romp through the Minnesota blogosphere beginning this Saturday. My hope is that I can continue to provide the snark once every week.

Comments on this change are welcome from all 6 people who actually read this crap!
5:59 PM | Posted in
Minnesota Management & Budget sent out its January economic update and the key word appears to be "grim". Their predictions put 2009 in the category of worst economy since World War II.

The only bright spots are the lower gas prices and low fixed mortgage rates. Their claim is that a possible stimulus plan in the works and the release of the TARP will help but not in the short term:

That program will greatly reduce the likelihood that the 2007-09 recession will turn into the 2007-10 recession, but it is unlikely to have any significant impact on the U.S. economy until early summer. Also, the proposed package attacks just one of the economy’s current problems, the decline in consumer spending. Credit markets also must begin to operate normally, and until capital again flows freely throughout the world, the U.S. economy to is expected to struggle. Repairing damage will require release of the second tranche of the TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) and possibly more.
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9:30 PM | Posted in
The special Captain Obvious Award for today goes to our outgoing President. Congratulations, because it only took you five years longer than the average 5th grader to realize that declaring something completed before it actually is completed would be a great idea. Could it be that George has been using every synapse possible over the last five years to come to this conclusion thereby allowing all other issues to be ignored? It seems like a newly plausible conclusion...

[Photo from TIME Quote of the Day]

On to the daily romp:

Today must have been some sort of Michael Brodkorb discussion day today. Did so few important things happen today that we have been reduced to examining the life of a smear monger?

Some guy wants to send the incoming President a letter to ensure that immigration enforcement is humane and people are not mistreated during this process. The response from Leo Pusateri? Damn you liberals, why don't you hate more!

Are you telling me that sometimes it is the employer who is intimidating their workers and not those dastardly unions? I couldn't possibly believe that because employers by their very nature are beacons of light with nary a fault or flaw.

Of course you are going to miss HIM. Who doesn't love endless war, economic disaster, illegal spying, botched natural disaster responses, and torture?

That Mitch Berg is so clever making fun of possible flooding in the Red River Valley. What a HOOT? As I recall, when my parents and I set to work gutting our basement and were living out of a trailer that we giggled about it every day. I also recall a Republican Governor at the time who was too busy worrying about spear fishing on Mille Lacs Lake to give a damn about portions of his state being devastated. You stay classy, Mitch...

Jeff Rosenberg wants Margaret Anderson Kelliher to single handedly wrestle Marty Seifert. Is that really a fair contest?

ALERT! Dick Day is a cyborg. Not to worry though, because any cyborg that cannot beat the likes of Brian Davis cannot be too dangerous.

Why are the Concerned Women For America trying to get us all to engage in a three way?

Aaron Brown wants you to vote on what to call those strange creatures that come from the forbidden lands of Northeastern Minnesota. I vote for the Communist Coalition and would like to remind them that they are missing a member from the Becker area.

Frankly, I don't think anybody cares why you keep questioning the recount.

Don't you just love it when conservatives wonder why they cannot win elections in Minnesota and then turn around and call Minnesotans stupid. Gosh, I wonder what that reason could be...

On a side note: Blue Man is back blogging at his home base. He laid the serious smackdown on the Republican Party delusions over Al Franken and their faux outrage over the present votes of Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum. I have enjoyed hosting him here but am glad to read him wherever he blogs...
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2:39 PM | Posted in ,
It has been some time since our last MNMusetube updates given that there hasn't been a lot of business on the floor of the United States House or Senate.

Senator Klobuchar took to the floor this week to discuss economic stimulus and tout a plan to bring broadband internet access to ALL Americans as part of the overall stimulus plan:





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.
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I received this legislative update from Representative Larry Haws. It is refreshing to see that my representation in the state legislature is focused on the important matters of our day rather than petty attacks and inconsequential matters. Keep up the great work, Larry!

Legislative Update from Rep. Larry Haws: January 9, 2009

This week we convened the 2009 Legislative Session and all minds are focused on dealing with the projected record-large multi-billion dollar budget shortfall for the next two-year budget cycle.

We are facing challenging budget negotiations that will require legislative leaders to reach across the aisle and help each other find solutions to move Minnesota toward a more stable and prosperous economy. [emphasis mine]

Our budget deficit will drive most of the key decisions we will be making this year. Everything is on the table for consideration and whatever choices or decisions are made about balancing the budget, participation of all parties and voices (yours included) will be needed. [emphasis mine]

I encourage all of you to participate in finding solutions to the challenges before us. The Minnesota House of Representatives has created a Budget Solutions Comment Page on its website http://www.house.mn to give Minnesotans an easy and direct way to communicate their ideas with state leaders as they work to eliminate a projected budget deficit of more than $5 billion. Several hundred ideas have already been received. These ideas will be forwarded to committee chairs, and many will be considered in committees and added to bills that will be introduced on the House floor. Budget solutions will also be accepted by mail or phone: Minnesota Budget Solutions, Minnesota House of Representatives, 470 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, 800-685-8907.

Important dates to keep in mind as the 2009 Legislative Session proceeds:
  • On January 15, Governor Pawlenty will outline his priorities for the 2009 Legislative Session in his State of the State Address.
  • By January 27, the governor will propose his two-year state budget to eliminate the multi-billion dollar gap between projected spending and anticipated revenue.
  • In the last week of February, an updated state economic forecast on the budget shortfall will provide legislators with information that will be used in our final budget bills during March to mid-May.
  • On May 18, the Legislature will adjourn to meet our constitutional deadline. We will provide a final budget for the governor?s signature.
  • If a budget agreement is not reached, the current two-year budget will expire on July 1 and the next probable step will involve a special session to reach a budget resolution that will work for lawmakers and Minnesotans.


Sincerely,

Rep. Larry Haws

I encourage everyone to go to the suggestions page at the Minnesota House site and provide their solutions to this current crisis. We can achieve pure democracy with everyone providing input and participating in the process.