Next step: Banning second-hand spit

Now that we've eliminated the threat of second-hand smoke in Minneapolis, it's time to take on the disgusting practice of second-hand spit.


(Seriously, though, what's the difference? If it were customary to spew tobacco-stained spit at bar patrons, would anti-spitting ban activists tell us to simply choose another bar?)


Right now, call and email your state reps! They are voting TODAY on the anti-family bill, HF6 that will ban same sex unions and domestic partnerships and any kind of recognition of such (benefits etc.) We must act NOW! This would be horrible for MN!

DO IT NOW!!!!!!! Thank you!


Here is a district finder:


RIP, Terri Schiavo

The sad final chapter of Terri Schiavo's life has ended. She passed away this morning.

Now, unfortunately, the spinning begins. I believe that the religious right will attempt to re-write history in the Schiavo case. They've already branded Michael Schiavo a money-grubbing murderer, and tagged his supporters "pro-death". The media was intensely biased towards the "Save Terri" sentiment even though poll showed it was held by a small minority of Americans. As of today, that minority will construct an alternative narrative that will be repeated in the right wing echo chamber for months and years to come. Past experience shows they are very good at breaking up the status quo consensus in favor of their retrograde beliefs.


Al Franken's Moving back to Minnesota

There's a small piece on "Left of the dial radio" over at Startribune.com, and in it lies a little gem:

Franken, who has said he plans a U.S. Senate run from Minnesota, confirmed Tuesday that he'd purchased a house in Minneapolis and plans to start broadcasting his show from the Twin Cities as early as January.

I guess I was kind of hoping that he'd move back to his hometown, St. Louis Park and hang out with me and watch bad karaoke and drink Summit at Park Tavern. Damn. Any chance the Cohen brothers might move back?

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Today's the day: the last day you can light up in Minneapolis bars and restruants, and various establishments in Ramsey and Hennepin Counties. The smoking bans go into effect Thursday (check local listings for exact time). Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Many bars in town are planning blowouts to mark the occasion.

Me? I'm going to go out Thursday and celebrate. No more second-hand smoke! No more tortured breathing! No more stinky clothes!

Dr. Ronald Cranford, Minnesota Hero

Minnesota neurologist Dr. Ronald Cranford of the Hennepin County Medical Center is my hero. He was one of the neurologists who examined Terri Schavio as part of the court proceedings. On Monday's Scarborough Country, he ripped Joe Scarborough and MSNBC daytime anchor Lisa Daniels new ones. Dr. Cranford refused to let the media's predominate "save Terri" spin get him off track. He flat out calls them liars! Bravo.

[LISA] DANIELS: Are you 100 percent correct in your opinion that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Do you agree with that?

CRANFORD: I am 105 percent sure she is in a vegetative state. And the autopsy will show severe irreversible brain damage to the higher centers, yes.

DANIELS: Why are you so sure, Doctor?

CRANFORD: Because I examined her. The court-appointed guardian examined her. Four neurologists at the hospital where she was has said she's carried a diagnosis of vegetative state for 12 years. Every neurologist that examined her, except for Dr. [William] Hammesfahr [a neurologist selected by Terri Schiavo's parents], who is a charlatan, has said she is in vegetative state. That's what the court found. Just because you don't like --


DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer to that? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

Media Matters has the transcript and video (Quicktime, Windows Media).

Update: Be sure to check out the Star Tribune's profile of Dr. Cranford in today's paper. The Strib got some reaction from Dr. Cranford on his Scarborough Country appearance: "'I out-Scarboroughed Scarborough. I attacked him before he attacked me,' Cranford said the next morning. 'I don't normally do that. But I was in an attack mode.'"

Update 2: The Star Tribune praises Dr. Cranford in an editorial today.

Rolling in the muck of a family's grief

It's official. Nothing's sacred:

List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm

And the Schindlers approved it.

Rice to moderate Arabs: Get ready for chaos

Rice Alarms Reformist Arabs with Stability Remarks

Condolezza Rice is just getting warmed up. Maybe she doesn't know she's Secretary of State. Maybe she doesn't know that what she says is, like, important.

Rice said in an interview with the Washington Post last week the Middle East status quo was not stable and she doubted it would be stable soon. Washington would speak out for "freedom" without offering a model or knowing what the outcome would be.

It would be so much better if Rice were merely speaking out of turn, or rattling words off the top of her head without really thinking about the. Unfortunately, she means what she says and planned to say it. Helena Cobban:

She (Rice) reveals a totally cavalier attitude to the whole non-trivial concept of social-political stability in Middle Eastern countries."

"So it looks as though Arc of Instability may now actually be the goal of U.S. policy, rather than its diagnosis of an existing problem

Karen Hughes has quite a job ahead of her.

Bush hates free speech

Eventually, this kind of stuff will come home to roost on the GOP. I mean, Americans will eventually rise up and reclaim their right to free speech, won't they?


"Can I count on your support of Patty Wetterling with a $100 donation?"

That was the closer for the call I received this morning on behalf of Patty Wetterling's bid for Senate. The caller, most likely an employee of a telemarketing firm in Washington state (hence the 206 area code that showed up on the caller ID box) spewed off a bunch of facts from a script about how Ms. Wetterling was the best person for the job and that polls indicated that she had the best chance of beating Mark Kennedy. I resisted the urge to ask whether or not the caller knew that Wetterling had been beat by Kennedy back in November, though knowing the telemarketing industry, I'm sure there was a response to this in the script.

From the sound of it, Patty Wetterling is taking her Senate bid fairly seriously. And while I'd most-likely vote for her if she got the nomination (and would love to see her beat Kennedy out for the seat), at this point I'm just not convinced that she could beat Mark Kennedy.


An infected boil on the face of decency

Every now and then I read a headline that chills me to the bone. Here is one:

Michigan Preparing To Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Gays

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

The key bit of the bill is as follows:

Sec. 5. (1) A health care provider may assert as a matter of conscience an objection to providing or participating in a health care service that conflicts with his or her sincerely held religious or moral beliefs.

There are other bills that would exempt health insurers or health facilities from providing or covering a health-care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

The level of denial, hypocrisy, blasphemy, groupthink, it takes to create and pass such abhorrent legislation is a mystery of evil. What is the appeal here for people of good faith and mercy? Did they direct their donations to tsunami aid towards only those of the appropriate sexual orientation? This is profoundly corrupt.


What's the punchline to this funny, funny story?

Isn't it funny how the Republican congress rushed to the aid of the husk of the shell of the person that used to be Terry Schiavo? Isn't it funny how some of them are shouting about an impending "culture of death?" Isn't it hilarious now nice people on the terrorist watch list can still purchase guns? Isn't it the funniest thing in the world how congress is about to pass legislation that gets rid of "administrative proceedings" against even the most unscrupulous of gun dealers in the United States? Isn't it just the most kooky fun you ever had thinking about how Bush and Co. want to record what books you read and where you go in a giant database, but don't want to store gun-related information of potential terrorists for more than 24 hours? Isn't that just a hoot?

I could just die laughing.

The Wingnut Carnival Barkers are out in force

There is probably no limit to the disgusting lengths the conservative right will go to co-opt personal tragedy for the gain of their pet organizations. Why should Terry Schiavo be an exception? Sadly, it isn't.

Who is Tom Delay?

Tom Delay withheld life support from his dying father.

CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy unfolding in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal -- without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the raging debate outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.

The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family standing vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman -- U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Far be it from me to sit in judgement on such a personal decision, but that is a remarkable about face.


TCF buys a stadium

Looks like my favorite bank bought themselves a stadium for $35 million (a pretty good deal since the whole thing will cost over $230 million). The on-campus Gophers stadium is to be named TCF Bank Stadium. It will be the only stadium in the Big Ten named after a corporation, and the first sports facility at the U named for a corporate sponsor.

As a price for the $35 mil, TCF also gets to extend their exclusive banking arrangment with University of Minnesota students. Yippie.

Bullet points of the mess redux

Little golden-brown nuggets of doo-doo I am scraping off my shoe:

Bill Fristt speaking about the death of Christopher Reeve in October of 2004:

I find it opportunistic to use the death of someone like Christopher Reeve -- I think it is shameful -- in order to mislead the American people," Frist said. "We should be offering people hope, but neither physicians, scientists, public servants or trial lawyers like John Edwards should be offering hype.

It is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic diseases, and, on
top of that, it's dishonest. It's giving false hope to people, and I can
tell you as a physician who's treated scores of thousands of patients that
you don't give them false hope.

Inevitably the case of Terry Schiavo will be compared to the cases of other brain dead people, which will cause one to wonder why congress isn't taking up each case individually, which will invite one to speculate that irony has died on our watch. For example: Right to Life, Unless You're Poor and Black

This week, as Americans followed the legal battle over Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, a 6-month-old baby was "murdered" by Texas Children's Hospital officials, according to Arizona Republic columnist Mike Newcomb. Against the wishes of Wanda Hudson, the boy's mother, hospital officials took Sun Hudson off a ventilator that was helping him breathe. The mother, a 33-year-old poor black woman with no prenatal care, begged the hospital
to keep her child alive.

[Note: The action was taken as a direct result of legislation Bush signed into law during his term as governor]

Whether it's directly attributable to the Schiavo Fiasco or not, Bush's approval ratings have plummeted.

In other news about the wonderful, positive impact of the social agenda the GOP is in the process of cramming down the throat of the country, it is now impossible to file domestic violence charges against unmarried people because of Ohio's new constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The hysterical Peggy Noonan utterly misses the point about Terry Schiavo. She calls those 87% of the general public who think the government and its posturing politicians should remove their noses from up our arses the "pull-the-tube-people." Ms. "Chicken Little" Noonan sees us wandering down the road to Aushwitz if we let Terry die. Odd she didn't have the same feeling over something a little more germane, say, Abu Ghraib. Oy.

For a real good time, attend the Traditional Values Cooalition's Confronting The Judicial War On Faith, featuring Tom "The Hammer" Delay, talkin 'bout them activist judges an' how they is bringin' us all into damnation by forcin the Homo-Sexoooal agenda upon us (ceptin' in the case of where they help us in winnin' 'lections, gerry-manderin an savin' the persistently vegatative, wink, wink).

Where are we going?America By the numbers. We're Number One! We're number One!


On Terri Schiavo

The political and media attention being given to the Terri Schiavo case sickens me. One family's personal tragedy has been turned into a media spectacle, and everyone has been hurt because of it. Terri has languished between life and death for 15 years now, and been turned into a rag doll for political partisans. Michael Schiavo has been called every name in the book from wife beater to murderer -- even by powerful congressmen. Terri's parents and family have been manipulated by the right wing machine, hoping to score political points off their daughter. They still haven't come to terms with Terri's brain death and what that means.

I do not like the messy policy that has been coming from conservatives at all levels of government as they rush to appease their Christian right base. I do not like the rhetoric that has been coming from the right, including calling supporters of Michael's right to see to his wife's last wishes as "pro-death." This is a grave insult to everyone who has faced a similar heartbreaking decision in their own family, and to the vast majority who would not want to be kept alive artificially in Terri's condition.

I feel great pain for Terri Schiavo's parents. They are in a very tough situation. I wish that they had been able to come to terms with Terri's fate and her wishes. I hope that they're able to understand and forgive.

I've read a great deal of testimony from those who've gone through the agonizing process, and a lot of good writing about the issues involved. Here are a few links. I encourage you to read them all.

Jeff Fecke: The Pro-Death Crowd: "My mother's decision was nothing of the sort. She didn't want her mother to die, not ever. She misses her to this day. But when the moment came, my mom made the right decision. It was not barbaric. It was not evil. It was loving, and I'll be damned if I ever believe otherwise."

JulieIde (Daily Kos): My nephew's feeding tube was removed: "The body that had held Tim lived for five months.  Alice and Bill removed the feeding tube in April;  after intensive research, this was the method Alice and Bill found to be the most painless and humane way to let him go.  On Mother's Day Tim's body died."

Jeff Fecke: The Death of Terri Schiavo: "There is nothing to be happy about in this case. There will be no winners, only losers. The Terri Schiavo case is a disaster for all involved. For her husband, it is a disaster because he has been forced to watch the woman he loved, who died fifteen years ago, held fast in between this world and the next. For her parents, it is a disaster because they were unwilling to let go of their daughter--not that any of us can blame them--and because they were given false hope by those who saw a potential political football in Terry."

Chris Rangel, MD: A long slow death in Florida: "The most metabolically active area of the brain and the first to be damaged when the supply of oxygen is interrupted for more than a few minutes is called the cebreal cortex. This is a thin layer of brain matter that is responsible for most of the higher brain functions including memory, sensory perception, planning, motivation, personality, and conscious thought. It is this layer that makes us who we are and it is this layer that has been almost completely destroyed in Terri Schiavo."

Jack Balkin: The Schiavo controversy, the pro-life movement, judicial restraint, and federalism: "Finally, the Congressional Republicans' moves also suggest that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the matter would not be left to the states, as so many pro-life politicians have advocated in the past, but would quickly become a fight over federal legislation outlawing abortion nationwide. Don't say I didn't warn you."

Lindsay Beyerstein: Lies Terri Schiavo's parents told me: "The Schiavo case presents no intricate medical, ethical, or legal dilemmas. Abstract Appeal's comprehensive legal chronology shows just how straightforward this case should have been. Michael Schiavo is Terri's legal guardian, the courts have determined that Terri wouldn't want a feeding tube, and Michael asked the doctors to take the tube out. That's really all there is to it. The Terri Schiavo appeal is a vicious and lavishly-funded propaganda campaign. Terri's parents and their allies are using pseudoscience and character assassination to destroy Michael Schiavo. The right wing is eating it up. If progressives don't counter these blatant misrepresentations now, the Terri Schiavo myths will be used against us for years to come."

Make your voice heard on proposed transit cuts

Everyone will be affected by the Metro Council's proposed transit cuts, whether they drive or not. Please let them know about your opposition.

From Skyway News, comments can be made in the following ways:

1. Comment cards, which will be made available on buses and trains;
2. E-mail to data.center@metc.state.mn.us
3. Fax to 651-602-1464
4. Mail to: Regional Data Center, Metropolitan Council, 230 E. 5th St., St. Paul, MN 55101

Comments will be accepted until May 1.

The Met Council will also be having public hearings on the proposed cuts in April.

Finally, contact your state senator and representative and ask them to support a dedicated source of funding for Metro Transit (if you live in the suburbs, this is particularly important).

Metro Transit cuts hit close to home

The proposed Metro Transit cuts and fare increase which would affect 70% of all routes, including the complete elimination of 28, hits close to home for me, because I ride the bus to work every day.

In a region gripped by traffic congestion -- a veritable Little Los Angeles -- cutting routes and reducing service is not the direction we want to go in. Ridership on Metro Transit has been falling since the last rate increase in 2001 (fares went from $1 to the inconvenient $1.25). These proposed cuts and 25 cent fare increase will hurt ridership even more.

As usual, the worst off will be the transit-dependent: the car-less poor, the elderly, and disabled folks who can't drive. People, like me, who can afford to drive, but chose not to, will probably give up on the hassle of riding the bus. That means even more cars on the traffic-choked roads, and more congestion for everyone.

Some good may yet come out of this. The Twin Cities' transit investment is pathetic compared to other cities of similar size. Transit advocates have been clamoring for a dedicated source of funding for Metro Transit for years. This year, state legislators are starting to come around. State Representatives and Senators have realized that a balanced transportation policy is vital for a healthy metro area.

If we push, this might be the year that Metro Transit finally gets the dedicated funding it need to build a viable transportation network. Citizens deserve the choice of walking, biking, bus, train, or car. Let's give them that choice. Many will chose alternatives to their car, leaving more room on the roads.

News and Resources:

Skyway News: Transit route cuts: the specifics: "Overall, the system will be cut 10 percent - and since Downtown is a major hub, most of the changes will affect us."

Star Tribune: Bus riders, legislators irked by proposed transit cuts: "For the past five years, Brian Moltz has been walking two blocks from his home in Edina to catch an express bus to work in downtown Minneapolis. But if Metro Transit follows through on a proposed route cut that would move the bus stop to a park-and-ride lot beyond walking distance, he'll likely just hop in his car and stay in it. 'If I've got to take the car out of a nice heated garage anyway, I might as well just drive downtown,' said Moltz, an information systems engineer at Wells Fargo."

Star Tribune editorial: Cut transit?/Not the way to ease traffic: "Let's see if we can get this straight. The biggest problem in the metropolitan area is traffic congestion. That's what the surveys say. The best way to fix the problem is more transit and better transit. Again, that's what the surveys say, and, indeed, the success of the Hiawatha light-rail line has helped people to see how a larger, higher-quality transit system would benefit the entire region. But now comes a recommendation that what's needed are higher fares and drastic service cuts in order to make trains and buses less popular and less dependable. What must be done, really, is to discourage ridership. That way, more commuters will be enticed back into their cars so that they can drive more, pollute more, burn more gasoline, waste more time in traffic and add more to the congestion problem. Does that make sense? No. Is it good public policy? Doubtful. Is it the best foundation on which to build the bigger, better transit system that most people want? Absolutely not."

Minnesota Politics: Transit death spiral: "This latest bunch of budget cuts could very well hasten the end of transit in this area. Metro Transit is already caught in a death spiral: fare increases and cutbacks in 2001 led to lower ridership, as did the strike. Raising prices and cutting service even more will lead to even fewer riders, less farebox revenue, and the need to do this all again in very short order. Eventually, we will have nothing more than a skeleton system, if anything."

Transit for Livable Communities

go Minnesota!


Jesus Helps Me Trick People

I saw this banner ad on Boing Boing:

Jesus Helps Me Trick People - Bush

It's an amusing variation on the Jesus Helps Me Trick People shirt from Diesel Sweeties (see comic) that's guaranteed to get more clicks from liberals.

Ignorance is not bliss

Here's an interesting tidbit from the world of facts and figures:

Virginity pledges makes kids more likely to get an STD.

Congress in a persistent vegetative state

Is there a more cynical play than the sights and sounds of this Republican congress reaching their dirty fingers into the hospital room of Terry Schiavo? What can they be thinking? From what bladder to they get their unmitigated gall?

ABC News released the GOP talking points relating to the Schiavo case yesterday. Points 3 and 4:

This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.

This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a co-sponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.

Charming. Leave it to the Republicans to use a woman whose brain is literally liquid as poster-girl for their ridiculous social agenda. Can you imagine? They actually proposed issuing a subpoena for Mrs. Schiavo to appear before them. That would have been rich. Bill Frist and Denny Hastert asking Terry Shiavo to follow the balloon. Perhaps they should subpoena all patients in a persistent vegetative state. Then at least one side of the conversation would make sense.

And then there's Bush. He signed a law as governor of Texas that mandates the cessation of life support in cases like Mrs. Schiavo's. But there he is making a big deal out of it, making political hay out of his total and complete hypocrisy, trusting that the people won't know the difference. And they don't.

What a crock. What an appalling use of tax dollars. What an absolute waste of time from the men and women we hire to run our nation.


Bad news

School shooting in Red Wing Lake.


March Madness

Not the basketball one, the wingnut one.

The Poor Man has the seeds. The divisions are Wankers, Douchebags, Wingnuts, and Pantloads.

Place your bets now.

A victory for balanced transportation

Minneapolis got its way on the 35W/Crosstown plan. The state has agreed to include the bus rapid transit station at 46th St. S. that Minneapolis wanted.

Minneapolis took a gamble by withholding municipal consent on the project unless the state agreed to incorporate transit in the 35W/Crosstown project. It paid off. This is a victory balanced transportation options (with all the benefits that brings) as well as a huge victory for Mayor R.T. Rybak and the City Council. Well done.

Update: See also the Star Tribune's take, Crosstown/A win for roads and transit.

Who the Hell is Robert Fitzgerald?

Robert Fitzgerald has announced that he is running for Mark Dayton's US Senate seat. And just who is Robert Fitzgerald? Surely you've heard of him? No? Well, uh, I probably wouldn't know who he was either had my wife not graduated from high school with him. He's an independent candidate from Fergus Falls and though his website doesn't provide a lot of information as to where he stands on the issues, I already like him much better than Mark Kennedy.


Drinking Liberally returns to Minneapolis

Under the careful stewardship of Robin from Power Liberal, Drinking Liberally is returning to Minneapolis in April.

Every Wednesday, 6:00-9:00 pm (beginning April 13th)
Liquor Lyles, 2000 Block, Hennepin Avenue (in the back)

Be there, or be sober.

Maoists on the right

Horowitz Mao

Billmon: Scenes from the Cultural Revolution.

Sure sounds like she's running

I just recieved an email from the Wetterling for Senate campaign. While her campaign website still says she's exploring running, the email sure makes it sound like she's running: "I believe I am the best person to ensure we keep this seat! ...I know that with your help, we can put together a strong, top-notch team and build the strongest grassroots, volunteer-driven campaign in the country....In the Senate, know that I will be Minnesota's tenacious fighter....I would be honored to represent you and be your voice for Minnesota values in the U.S. Senate."

Another PiPress mention

I missed it, but we got another mention in the Pioneer Press last Saturday, in an article about RSS. Thanks for the plug, PiPress.

If you were wondering, you can find our RSS feed here, or if you prefer, we also have an Atom feed.

I highly recommend using RSS to read weblogs. It will allow you to keep track of all the blogs in Minnesota (more on that later) fairly easily.


Let's cut Social Security Benefits!

Forty-five Fifty Republicans just voted against a sense of the Senate resolution that states:

It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt.

Sense of the Senate resolutions don't really mean any thing, but could 45 50 Republicans seriously be so foolish? They've just said they're open to a Social Security plan that will cause "deep benefit cuts" or a "massive increase in debt" or both.

Update: Fixed the number of Republicans who against the resolution. My fault, I guess I'm stuck in the pre-2002 Senate when it was 50/50 (minus 5 = 45). Sigh, if only it were true...



Here is the roll call for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, quite possibly the worst and most potentially destructive piece of legislation the Senate has considered thus far. Note that Senator Clinton did not vote (possibly because her husband was in surgery, though let the record show that she was an earlyDemocratic supporter of the bill). Krugman's editorial on the bill is still worth reading, especially when he recites the desperate efforts of Democrats to affix some minor good to a purely evil bit of legislation:

One increasingly popular loophole is the creation of an "asset protection trust," which is worth doing only for the wealthy. Senator Charles Schumer introduced an amendment that would have limited the exemption on such trusts, but apparently it's O.K. to game the system if you're rich: 54 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against the Schumer amendment.

Other amendments were aimed at protecting families and individuals who have clearly been forced into bankruptcy by events, or who would face extreme hardship in repaying debts. Ted Kennedy introduced an exemption for cases of medical bankruptcy. Russ Feingold introduced an amendment protecting the homes of the elderly. Dick Durbin asked for protection for armed services members and veterans. All were rejected.

In the end, 24 Democrats voted for the bill, and all should be ashamed.


Online Coalition: Protect Blogging and Online Journalism from FEC Regulation

The Online Coalition, a collection of bloggers and journalists from across the political spectrum, has published an open letter to the FEC asking that the FEC clarify that bloggers and online-only news sites are covered under the press exemption. The letter also asks that the FEC clarify the definition of "coordinated activities" and exempt all unpaid political activism from regulation.

I've signed their letter, and I encourage you to take a moment to read it and sign it too.

Related: Senator Russ Feingold (the "Feingold" part of McCain-Feingold) assures bloggers that BCRA is not meant to limit online speech, and that he will fight any FEC ruling limiting "legitimate bloggers" (some questions remain about what he means by that).

We're whaa?

Porter Goss Double Take

This Daily Show clip is great. Bush is visiting the CIA to give a pep talk. He says something that makes Porter Goss do a double take. Watch it!


Social Security Stories

Democracy for America has been collecting people's stories about how Social Security affected their lives. This is a powerful testiment to the vital importance of Social Security as a guaranteed benefit. Here's the Social Security stories near Minneapolis.

One thing you see over and over in these stories is the how Social Security's survivorship benefits have helped many families who would've otherwise been faced with some very tough situations. This is what a safety net is all about. If (god forbid) something happens to you, it's not right that your family should suffer for something that's no fault of their own.

Predictably, how the survivorship benefits will be paid for under the new regime is not something the Republicans have talked much about. They seem to want to pretend these benefits simply don't exist.


Lights, Camera, Spider Hole!

This belongs to the news of the weird. But given the staging that went on during the rescue of Jessica Lynch and the toppling of the statue of Saddam, I'd say this is in character.

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Pawlenty: Dragging Minnesota back into the 1700s

Tim Pawlenty unveiled his so-called "Turbo-charged Truth in Taxation" today. The idea is fundamentally unsound. We already have referendums on taxation: they're called elections and they're held every other year. But the plan is even worse than I thought.

MN Politics Guru explains:

Governor Pawlenty gave up on the turbocharged Truth in Taxation for school levies, but he is pushing ahead on the idea for local government levies. Or, should I say, he's pushing behind, far, far, far behind. He is trying to take us back to the 18th century, when only property owners had any say in this pseudo-democracy. See, according to his proposal, only property owners would be able to object to tax increases. And a property owner would have as many votes as they have parcels of land. So a landlord with five apartments could have five votes, the hundred tenants in his buildings: zero.

Well, at least we know his stand on progress.

Apartment dwellers (e.g., me) and others who don't own property don't get a vote. Outrageous. Minnesota has approximately a 75% home ownership rate. That means about 25% of Minnesotans won't get a say in how government should pay for itself. This plan is diametrically opposed to the great American ideal of one person, one vote. Pawlenty's plan is diametrically opposed to democracy itself. Simply unbelievable.


Bloggy Links

WASHINGTON POST: Democrats to Launch An Online Talk Show
Brilliant idea. We videobloggers have been wanting something like this. DemsTV.com is down; AmericaBlog suspects foul play. Watch the premiere episode here!

FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: "Bloggers, chill out already!"

NEW YORK TIMES: When Dan Rather steps down as anchor of CBS Evening News tomorrow, he'll go back to being a reporter.

SLATE: CBS, What Is the Frequency? What the network should do in the post-Rather era.
"Cater to serious news consumers, less commericals, put the goddamned show on the web." That's a start, but it's still old-world.

Blogger in the White House Pool. Fire in the disco!

Remember Dave Durenberger?

There's an interesting piece on former Senator and lifelong Republican in the current City Pages. Check it out.

CP: There's a slew of Republican candidates and officeholders in Minnesota who put their religious beliefs front and center in their public life.

Durenberger: Yep. It's television. Televised evangelism. Do they all come from their own churches and such? Yes. But look. I have very strong feelings about faith as a motivator. You can have your faith, and you can't just check it at the door when you go to work, but there's got to be enough respect to keep it out of what you do. When you start to rely on The Book to set policy, I begin to have a problem with that. I can't handle that one, the business of legislating your faith.


Casino NIMBYs

A Star Tribune poll showed that about 60% of Minnesota citizens support a Metro-area casino with some profits going back to the state. But as Kevin Duchschere reports in a new article, there are very few cities willing to host the casino. Get ready for the battle of the Casino NIMBYs. (Assuming the state-run casino can pass the legal challenges against it, that is.)

Thanks to Minnesota Politics Guru for turning me on to both these issues. He points out that the state constitution clearly forbids gaming and noted a long time ago that the NIMBY factor would be a huge issue.


More domains available

I disagree with the premise of this letter (the internet isn't ideological), but I still thought it was funny. Look, MDE, here's some other great domains you can buy to promote your site! I doubt he'll like them though, because these names are honest about what they're selling.

Web wars

I read the March 1 story about the blogger who has purchased DFL-friendly domain names with astonishment. Here is an obviously far-right Republican using the Internet like a progressive Democrat.

I think if it were truly up to the ultra-conservative Republicans, there would be no Internet. Americans would instead be stuck in the 1950s.

I have checked availability of some other domain names. I would encourage the anonymous grabber to grab these domains before any left-winger can get hold of them.

• RepublicansWishItWas1955.com

• RepublicansThinkEveryoneElseIsTheBoogeyman.com

• VoteRepublicanVoteRepression.com

• RepublicansForMcCarthyism.com

• NeoconsForAnnihilation.com

Of course, this is just a start. Imagine the domains the anonymous grabber would want to grab. It may take a while, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

John Plumhoff, Maple Grove.


Regulating Free Speech: Get out your cyber gags

The Federal Election Commission is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet:

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

The real question is: Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.

Certainly a lot of bloggers are very much out front. Do we give bloggers the press exemption? If we don't give bloggers the press exemption, we have the question of, do we extend this to online-only journals like CNET?

Why wouldn't the news exemption cover bloggers and online media?
Because the statute refers to periodicals or broadcast, and it's not clear the Internet is either of those. Second, because there's no standard for being a blogger, anyone can claim to be one, and we're back to the deregulated Internet that the judge objected to. Also I think some of my colleagues on the commission would be uncomfortable with that kind of blanket exemption.

Something not mentioned in the article/interview; how does this issue not infringe on a blogging citizens right to free speech?

And then there's this:

Senators McCain and Feingold have argued that we have to regulate the Internet, that we have to regulate e-mail. They sued us in court over this and they won.

Usually I have great respect for McCain, and it seems he would be against this, I just don't understand how he can be on the wrong side of this issue. Very disappointing.

We must stop this. The internet is the citizen's soap box and a blog is our own personal pulpit of free speech. The internet should NOT be regulated, lest we become China or Iran.

Take action:

(The following email was listed in reference to comment on the passing of the 2002 version of the law, but I bet it would still work now. If anyone has a better one, please let us know.)

Comments can be sent to the FEC at Electioneering@fec.gov and should include the full name, e-mail address and street address of the person submitting the comment.

Here is a different view on this issue, I find the comments to the post most interesting.

The virtue of selfishness

The poisonous wheezes of Ayn Rand's most powerful disciple are gathering into clouds: Alan Greenspan supports a fundamental shift to a consumption tax. Why is it that whenever someone posits that a tax policy supports "growth", I'm thinking that poor people are gonna get screwed?

This news comes at the same time that Krugman tears down Greenspan's credentials as a "non-partisan font of wisdom":

When Mr. Greenspan made his contorted argument for tax cuts back in 2001, his reputation made it hard for many observers to admit the obvious: he was mainly looking for some way to do the Bush administration a political favor. But there's no reason to be taken in by his equally weak, contorted argument against reversing those cuts today.

To put Mr. Greenspan's game of fiscal three-card monte in perspective, remember that the push for Social Security privatization is only part of the right's strategy for dismantling the New Deal and the Great Society. The other big piece of that strategy is the use of tax cuts to "starve the beast."

Academic Bill of Rights - Conservative litmus testing writ large

Senator Michele Bachmann (R) District 52 and Representative Ray Vandeveer (R) 52A aligned themselves with David Horowitz as they proposed that Minnesota enact Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights. Horowitz is editor-in-chief of Frontpage Magazine . He recently visually compared Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen and Hilary Clinton with Al-Zarqawi, Bin Laden and Ramzi Yusef in his new mecca for conservative tinfoil hatters, Discover The Network.

Horowitz, and by extension Bachman and Vandeveer, believe that American universities are basically indoctrination centers of liberal thought. Their solution is an ungraceful, overly wordy set of rules they call the "Academic Bill of Rights," though nowhere in the document is an actual right defined. To be fair, the Academic Bill of Rights is a nice pyramid of words - there isn't much to disagree with as a statement. But my disagreement with the implementation of the ABOR as policy is profound. I simply couldn't be more opposed to it or to the people foisting it on our state.

The first problem is methodological. As policy, the ABOR corrupts what it sets out to protect: The pursuit of truth. Horowitz says that the "unsettled character of all human knowledge" means "that there is no humanly accessible truth that is not in principle open to challenge." This is true, there is no humanly accessible truth that is not open to challenge (interesting point for Bachman, a fundamentalist Christian). Horowitz asserts that since there is always a challenge to humanly accessible truth, therefore challenges should always be provided. But the problem is that certainty exists, even if certainty can be modified later with new data. Sometimes the path is less clear. In niether case is it an absolute that a challenge to truth be provided. Shall we, when confronted with the equation 2+2=4, spend time challenging the result? If I take a class on capitalism, shall Marxism be presented for contrast? Or should I take a class on Marxism at which Capitalism will be taught? Am I being "abused" if my professor fails to challenge me with an opposing viewpoint? Lacking education, how will I know? Intellectual diversity opposes truth and spiritual depth and critical thinking. It turns distilled human thought to mush and fear.

But advancing the notion of intellectual diversity as an academic principle is not the purpose of the ABOR. Though Horowitz maintains that the document is scrupulously free of ideology, the very existence of the ABOR is expressly political. In fact, it is an instrument that can only be political. I swear, the ugliest action takes place under the prettiest language. While promoting a document that pretends to remove politics and religion from the classroom, Horowitz has tapped the main vein of academia and mainlined political litmus testing directly into it - mostly conservative litmus testing. It is ironic, no...It is insane that the state of Minnesota or any state in America is considering enacting this insidious KGB-esque framework.

Because the ABOR mandates "intellectual diversity," and because this is a concept that is largely in the eye of the beholder, it places the responsibility for enforcement on the student. If a professor advances an unwelcome idea, the student could percieve it as "abuse." Students would record "abuses" and report them to a higher authority. After enough momentum is gained, offending professors would get drummed out of schools. Student organizations would be formed for the purpose of spying on professors and catching them in ideological peccadilloes. Perhaps the history class isn't quite "American" enough. Perhaps the theology professor isn't quite "Christian" enough, or is too "Christian." Perhaps the gym teacher made a remark about a GOP candidate that didn't sit well with a young republican, or a business professor takes pot shots at a Democrat. Perhaps a biology student is offended by the teaching of evolution to the exclusion of Intelligent Design.

This is not a hypothesis. Horowitz has organized 150 chapters of Students for Academic Freedom across the country. From the handbook:

E. Focusing On Specific Professors and Departments

As you complete this process, you may begin to get a sense of which professors are particularly partisan in their teaching. If you know that a student is taking a class with one of these professors, make sure to ask whether they have encountered abusive actions in the classroom. Some departments are known for their ideological and partisan leanings. These include Cultural Studies, American Studies, English Literature, Women’s Studies, African-American (or Black) Studies, Chicano/Latino/Hispanic Studies, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Studies, American-Indian Studies, and Asian-American Studies. Fertile ground is also found in the Political Science, Sociology and History departments, although to a lesser degree than the departments mentioned above. If you have received numerous complaints about a particular professor, consider sitting in on their class for a session or two. Bring a hand-held tape recorder if possible and take notes about the context and situation of classroom interactions. Notes are essential for understanding later what you are hearing on the tapes, or recording comments or dialogue probably not picked up by the tape recorder. If possible, recruit a student who is taking the class for credit to help you.

Can you say political officer in every classroom?

[Update: via Orcinus

LittleMolly McPherson president of the Santa Rosa Junior College Republicans and political officer in training, has posted Red Stars on the doorways of faculty members she believes teach communism with the intention to indoctrinate.]


NP Interview #1: Minneapolis Library Board candidate Alan Hooker

Alan Hooker Interview: Quicktime Medium [21 MB]  Small [13 MB]
Alan Hooker Interview: Flash [21 MB]
Alan Hooker Interview: MP3 [6 MB]
Transcript (comming soon)

On Sunday, February 27, Chuck and I sat down for an interview with Minneapolis Library Board candidate Alan Hooker at his home in North Minneapolis. It is the first in what will hopefully be a series of citizen journalism interviews with local leaders.

We talked to Alan about what the Library Board is and what makes it unique; why he thinks he'd be a good addition to the board; his plans for Library Board transparency; how he would deal with the library funding shortfalls; and his thoughts about the role of the libraries in the age of the internet.

For more information about Alan, you can visit his campaign website.

We're looking to do more of these interviews in the future. If you're interested in an interview, or have a suggestion for a good one, please drop me a line at look@recursion.org.

Link Dump

Here's some local blogs I've come across recently that I'll be keeping my eye on.

Power Liberal

MN Pundit

Minnesota Lefty Liberal

The Minneapolis Observer's Ballot Box. Ballot Box is a good source for up-to-the-minute coverage of Minneapolis politics, but it could use some permalinks!

Any other suggestions?


The AP reports that U.S. military dead in Iraq rises to 1,500.


DFL Technology Survey

Calling all bloggers and blog-readers! I've just put up a new survey asking for opinions about how the DFL uses technology -- and how we can use it better. Internet-savvy people like you are exactly who we want to hear from.

The survey is very short (10 questions) and no personal information is collected, so there's no excuse not to fill this one out.

Please take a minute to let the DFL know how you feel about our current technology utilization and what we can do better. This information will be used for technology planning purposes going into the 2006 and 2008 elections. After you've filled out the survey, send the link on to your friends: DemocratsListen.com.


Quote of the day

Nick Coleman: "South St. Paul to Tim Pawlenty: You need to win reelection in 2006 or the right wing will dump you faster than a male prostitute who somehow got White House press credentials."

Questions for Jeff Gannon

Some folks at Daily Kos have put together a set of questions they'd like Jeff Gannon to answer. Gannon has said he'll answer questions from liberal and conservative bloggers (see March 1 12:39 post). There's some good ones in there, things that haven't yet been addressed in the media. Let's see if Gannon will answer them.

Here's some of my favorites:

2. Were you paid for any of your work for Talon News or GOPUSA? If so, who paid you?

14. As a novice reporter, how did you learn the procedure for obtaining a day pass to the White House?

16. When did you first apply for a daily pass with the White House Press Corps? Did you apply for it or was it arranged through Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com?

20. Have you ever met Karl Rove? When? Where? How many times?

27. Which falsehoods have been spread about you that you would like to dispell right now? For example, will you go on record saying that you were not running an escort service? We feel that this is relevant because of your past articles accusing others of behavior that you now consider "private, personal" information.

I would also like to see him answer some questions about his interaction with the Thune campaign.



Chuck and I went to our city caucus tonight at the Webster Open School. It was a short and sweet way to get the ball rolling again. And, we're both delegates! (again)

*The best part was sitting in the little chairs at the little desks and reading all the stuff on the board in the classroom. Ahh, nostalgia for the days when your main tools were crayons and Elmer's glue. Sigh.

Our new Brutus

"Minnesota Democrat Exposer"'s latest reply to his critics is a stirring defense of the right to publish anonymously that harkens back to the Republic's earliest days. Why, remember when the anonymous Anti-Federalists named their own letters The Federalist Papers to confuse supporters of the Constitution?

Oh wait. The Anti-Federalists were honest about what they were selling, and their letters became known as the Anti-Federalist Papers. (For reference, an interesting chronology of this extended debate.)

He also accuses the DFL of hypocrisy for engaging in the same practices with three examples that utterly miss the mark. Let's review them.

1. The DFL has a PawlentyFacts.com website. You'll notice a difference between PawlentyFacts.com and the domains that MDE registered: PattyWetterlingForSenate.com, WetterlingForSenate.com, MikeHatchForGovernor.com, AmyKlobucharForUSSenate.com. PawlentyFacts.com is a site about Pawlenty. It doesn't pretend to be Pawlenty's site. Anonymously registering political domains pretending to be other than what they are is sleazy.
2. The DFL has linked to Pawlenty Exposed, which is run anonymously (actually, it's something of an homage to MDE). Sorry, I missed the part where Pawlenty Exposed registered PawlentyForPresident.com in order to direct more traffic to his website...
3. The DFL benefited from cybersquatting after someone registered RandySkoglund.com, after the name of a MNGOP party official. What this leaves out is: 1) The just-deserts factor: at the time, Skoglund was cybersquatting on TimPenny.com and other DFL-inspired names. 2) Who did this? I bet they didn't do it anonymously, and MDE has presented no evidence that the DFL was involved in any way. 3) Skoglund is a nobody, he wasn't considering a run for elective office. 4) This domain has now lapsed, and is still unprocessed. Apparently Skoglund didn't care enough about his name to pick up the domain when it expired.

MDE won't address the real reason why his behavior is at issue. Instead, he's hiding behind his right to anonymity. I think Flash does a good job of summarizing the real problem with what he's done:

So I will share in their defense of anonymous free speech. But I will also use my right of free speech as well. I find it cowardly to hide behind an anonymous non de plume when you are attempting to thrust yourself into the political spotlight. I believe it effects your credibility. It should also make one leary that if you can't even be honest about who you are, how can you trust the information that is being disseminated. [emphasis mine]

I said yesterday that MDE wants to have credibility without accountability And as a commenter here noted, he's removed comments from his blog so he can't be challenged there, and he's removed links to local liberal blogs where readers might find a counter to what he's saying [Note: I checked on this last night, but it seems that the links have since been added]. So far, he hasn't linked to any criticism by local bloggers of what he's done, though it's appeared on at least three sites.

After Randy Skoglund registered DFL names, we knew who he was to criticize him. We knew he was the deputy executive director of the Minnesota Republican Party. Not so with MDE. For all we know, he is Randy Skoglund, up to his old tricks.

I urge MDE to either come clean and let us know who he is, or relinquish the domains he bought at cost to the injured parties.

Title Note: Brutus was a common pseudonym used in publishing the Anti-Federalist papers.