Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day 2008

Today is the 29th of February, Leap Day in Leap Year 2008.

The campaigns of the three biggest contenders to be the next President of the United States are entering into their own leap phase. The Obama campaign has leaped ahead of his opponent in his battle for the Democrats nod. For the Clinton campaign, it has come down to a leap of faith as to how much longer her campaign can last, which may not be much more than next week.

On the Republican side, McCain is trying to leap out of the way of his own past and not get caught in his blanket denials. Huckabee meanwhile has been reduced to playing for yucks in a leap from reality, appearing on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Locally, Minnesota Governor and prospective McCain running-mate, Tim Pawlenty got leaped over by the Minnesota Legislature, which overrode his veto for the first time on a new transportation bill. At the same time as this was going on, his Commissioner of Transportation was thrown to the curb by the Minnesota Senate in the wake of the I-35W Bridge Collapse, which refused to ratify her reappointment to the position. Although she remains as Lt. Governor, that’s ok, at least it’s a political position, unlike her former one.

Yep. It sure has been a time for leaps.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Glen Beck: "Rick Santorum..the Churchill of Our Times"

I couldn't believe my ears! I just heard some self-proclaimed/self-important idiot, alcoholic talk radio show host (I know, I know...redundant as Hell!) by the name of Glen Beck say that the conservative he admires most these days is former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). In fact, this Beck character(ture)says he became a true conservative when he sobered up sometime in the mid-90's. This must be why he credits his conservative roots to the Reagan era, a time period in which Mr. Beck's brain was obviously pickled in alcohol.

See Glenn Beck: GOP Must Rediscover Core Values, Npr's Morning Edition, February 26, 2008.

This post-fetal alcoholism must also be why Beck thinks Rick Santorum is some modern day equivalent of Winston Churchill. Beck says of Santorum: “ ...he is a Winston Churchill of some kind for our times. I think this guy (Santorum) really has it. I think he really understands the world we live in right now."

I had never heard of this Beck guy before and I can see why! Whoa!! Glen. Rick Santorum? Some kind of a Winston Churchill for our times? But Beck doesn't reserve his expert analysis to just historic world political figures by the likes of Churchill and the great Rick Santorum, Beck calls John McCain "...more dangerous to the conservative movement than Hillary Clinton."

Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, Glen Beck, the man (alcoholic), the mind (fermented) and his wisdom (Santorum is some kind of Churchill), truly a conservative for our time.

William F. Buckley, you will be sorely missed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Man & His Word: John McCain and Campaign Finance Limits

Just as the New York Times article was surfacing detailing Sen. McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist, a relationship that was apparently so troubling to his own campaign staff in election year 2000, that one of them met with the woman and asked her to back-off; we also hear that the GOP’s self-proclaimed paragon of straight talk and virtue is backing off his pledge to abide by campaign finance limitations.

You’ve got to be kidding. You mean to tell me that Senator McCain is refusing to abide by the very same campaign finance limitations co-authored by none other than himself? Mr. Straight Talk Express? Well, remember McCain/Feingold? It’s not some kind of gentile/Jew vaudeville act, you know Senator.

Talk about “Slick Willie” all you want but this has got to be the Mother of All Hypocrisies. At least Bill Clinton did not go around billing himself as a straight shooter. What you felt is what you got from President Clinton; whether it was the business end of his cigar or all over your blue dress.

Senator McCain, for all his talk about duty and honor, now seems to be of the opinion: “duty and honor, yes, but only when it is to my benefit”. Well, as an actor who played an Army Colonel for a M*A*S*H unit on t.v. once said: “Oh, Horse Hockey!”

Question: What can a man freely give away yet always keep for himself?

Answer: His Word.

Word to you Senator McCain, my Brother!

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain: K Street Project Revisited?

Remember Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed? You know, Washington, D.C.'s version of the Gang of Four. The guys who dreamed up the K Street Project (i.e. effort by the Republican Party (GOP) to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials) and the worst corruption and influence peddling scandal ever to hit any administration, with the possible exceptions of Warren G. Harding Administration's Tea Pot Dome Scandal or the disasterous, corruption riddled Grant Administration. See

So far, there is nothing to indicate from the New York Times article revealing Sen. McCain's cozy friendship with a female lobbyist that any illegality took place. However, it does serve as a stark reminder to the public that there is a HUGE difference between the national political parties and whose interests they serve in our nation's capitol while carrying out the business of government.

While it is true that the Democrats' barrel may have had a bad apple or two, like Congressman Jefferson from Louisiana and his freezer full of cold cash, but it is absolutely miniscule compared to the wholesale, Sam's Club version of government for sale that the Republicans ran under the Bush/DeLay/Abramoff Administration. Remember how the Bush White House claimed to barely knew who Jack Abramoff was and fought over the release of its appointment schedule. Then about six months later it comes out that Abramoff had communicated with the White House over 400 times!

Although the investigations continue and a Repbulican Congressman or staffer keeps going to prison about every nine months or so, do we really want to have the White House under the control of the party that thinks the people's business is Halliburton's business?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

St. Paul City Council Chooses More Weapons for Police Over Summer Programs for its Youth

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press 02/21/2008 12:22:09 AM CST :

“In a financial public hearing that turned into a referendum on the weapon, the St. Paul City Council gave the green light for the police department to spend $210,000 in seized drug money to buy 234 Tasers. That vote was 6-1, with Council Member Melvin Carter III voting against.

But moments before, a move intended to reroute the money and spend it on summer crime prevention programs failed 4-3. Council Member Lee Helgen authored the move, and Carter and Council Member Russ Stark backed it.”

Hopefully for their sake, St. Paul City Council members Bostrom, Harris, Lantry and Thune, won’t someday look back and regret the choice they made yesterday, either because some citizen lies dead due to the unnecessary use of a Taser by a member of the St. Paul Police Department or because one of the city’s young people got mixed up with drugs, gangs and/or crime because of a lack of summer youth programs. Sadly, it is not very likely because the type of person who would choose to spend more money on weapons for the police department over summer programs for the city’s disadvantaged youth are most likely the same caliber of cynics who never see the consequences of their own actions because they are too busy pointing their privileged fingers of blame at others.

I find it ironic but not unusual that it was the son of a cop and the only person of color on the council, Melvin Carter III, who represents Ward 1, that had the background, experience and wisdom to be the sole vote in opposition to the eventual decision to spend the people’s money on more Tasers for the police. But I must say, hats off to Council Member Helgen who authored the progressive plan and Council Members Stark and the aforementioned Carter, who supported the alternative to spend the $210,000 in drug forfeiture monies on something peaceful and constructive instead of perpetuating the violence and destructiveness from which the monies came.

Unfortunately, just like this country’s foreign policy, we would rather spend money on weapons systems than on programs which project our soft power and are often much more effective.

Courageous Council Member Carter

From: Melvin Carter
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 13:41:48 -0600

Subject: Re: Proposal to Purchase an Additional 230 Tasers

Thanks for the information... I will be voting against the
expenditure for tasers.

Melvin Carter
Council Member, Ward 1
City of Saint Paul

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Open Letter to St. Paul City Council: Reconsider Plan to Purchase 230 More Tasers

St. Paul City Council Members

Re: Agenda Item for Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Proposal for St. Paul Police Dept. to Purchase an Additional 230 Tasers

During these troubled economic times of recession and budget constraints, the St. Paul Police Department is asking the city for $210,000 to buy an additional 230 Tasers so every patrol officer in the city will have a stun gun. Tom Walsh, a spokesperson for the police department claims: "Using the Taser has allowed us to take people into custody without using deadly force, without using a degree of force that would cause a police officer to use a firearm or an additional force that would leave a person injured". "So we find them to be effective and probably safer for both the police officer and the person who's being arrested," Walsh said. (See MPR article of 2/18/08.)

At first blush, if Walsh's claims are in fact true, the logic sounds reasonable and $210,000 is a very small price to pay to save even one human life, be it an officer or a citizen they are attempting to subdue. Unfortunately, reality is never so simple and neat, especially when it comes to questions of expending the public's money on safety. Fear sells. The danger, however, is build it and they will come. Buy it and they will use it, too often and with disastrous, unintended consequences.

These devices, like Officer Walsh stated, are marketed as non-lethal alternatives to firearms. Had the marketing of these devices stopped there it would have been one thing, but as with the marketing exuberance that surrounds any product, uses for the products were promoted that far exceeded the concept of an absolute last chance alternative to the use of deadly force. Soon devices such as the Taser were promoted as a means of gaining quick, safe control over a situation that use to be done through verbal commands and calm and respectful reasoning. But the old ways didn't cost money and took time. Let's face it, low tech is boring.

In today's fast paced society, we have been conditioned to strive for efficient and economical methods of performing any task. We have all seen the controlled demonstrations of stun guns on t.v. where they would solicit a volunteer from the agency or organization they were marketing the product to and hit them one time with a jolt and the person is temporarily incapacitated, but recovers in a few minutes, no less for wear, or so it seems. Therefore the decision on behalf of law enforcement to escalate to the use of devices like the Taser is no big deal. Give every officer one of these devices and the risk of misuse multiplies.

The overwhelming anecdotal evidence is that when these devices are used on persons displaying erratic, agitated behavior, whether due to the influence of mood altering substances or organic mental illnesses, precisely the type of people the product is marketed for, the results have proved to be fatal in hundreds of cases.

Just last month, a Fridley man was on the way to pick up his parents at the airport, got into a fender bender and roadside confrontation. Although 5 state troopers responded to the accident scene and presumably, with that display of force, should have been able to control the situation. For reasons that remain unknown at this point due to an ongoing investigation, the troopers resorted to the use of a stun device and the man died.

Remember the news story from last year of the Polish immigrant who did not speak English and was lost at the Vancouver airport. He actions were viewed as suspicious and reported to the Canadian Mounties who immediately escalated to the use of the stun gun when they misconstrued his inability to communicate as resisting and the man died. Fortunately a passing tourist recorded the incident with a cell phone camera, which directly contradicted the Mounties version.

With a large immigrant population in St. Paul, do we really want to rely on the fortuity of passing citizens to keep law enforcement in line if every patrol officer has one of these devices?

Furthermore, once the industry learned of the mounting death toll as a result of the use of their device, did it act responsibly? Responsible as the tobacco industry. If you think I exaggerate, just see National Public Radio reporter Laura Sullivan's excellent two-part series from February 26 and 27, 2007 entitled
Death by Excited Delirium: Diagnosis or Cover-up?

Here is some food for thought from the attorney who established police takings liability in the state of Minnesota: you are opening the city up to potential liability that will make the expenditure of $210,000 look like pennies. Spend the money on training, mental health issues and more cops. It may be low tech and not very sexy, but at least you won't be raising taxes to pay millions in damages and attorney fees to people like me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

E 85, Climate Issues and Energy Security

Remember that bit Johnny Carson did on the Tonite Show, Carnac the Magnificent, where he played a psychic who would hold up a sealed envelope to his turban covered head, go into a trance and make a pronouncement. He would then rip one end of the envelope off, smirk as he blew into the now open end of the envelope and extracted an index card from which he read the question that his declaratory statement just answered.

You see, I came up with the idea last Friday as I was listening to MPR, while reading the paper and at the same time searching the internet for signs that the Republicans are gearing up their election cycle propaganda jukebox, you know the one that keeps spinning the same old tunes over and over and over every 2-4 years. I mean come on GOP guys and gals, even KQ has a more progressive and KDWB a less repetitive, playlist then your golden oldies about gays, guns and God. It's just too bad that the late great singer songwriter Steve Goodman isn't still with us so he could pen the perfect Republican election anthem like when he co-wrote the perfect country western song with David Allan Coe, you know the one that went something like "...she left me, the day momma got out of prison, just before she died when her pick-up truck got hit by a train.."

But I digress, like I was saying, as I was multi-tasking last Friday morning I hear this voice I recognize from my past on the radio, but I cannot immediately place it. The familiar voice had a strange accent, like a New Jersey version of Elmer Fudd and then it all comes back to me: its Ed Garvey. I think Ed is trying to sound like he knows something about energy, but what I'm not sure. Did he just say that Gov. Pawlenty wanted him to "...catcha da wabbit"?

Now don't get me wrong, I like Ed. He lived across the hall from me in Frontier Hall my freshman year at the U of M way back in 1979. As I recall, Ed was an out of state student from New Jersey and for some unknown reason was attending the U of M, a land grant public institution in the Midwest and which had virtually an open enrollment policy at the time, for political science. Since Ed was the son of a Princeton professor, I always got the impression, at the time, that he must have been the black sheep of his elitist-educated, Ivy League family. Although Ed and I did not have a lot in common or hang out much, his assigned roommate was a hedonist jazz musician from Racine Wisconsin whom I did share a lot with, much to Ed's consternation.

Our paths crossed again, somewhat to my surprise and certainly to his, when Ed showed up in my first year class at the U of M Law School. I was the third generation to attend from my immediate family and Ed, well, let's just say Princeton professors must have a lot of pull. Again, Ed and I did not have a lot in common or hang out much, I was still a hedonist and working three jobs while attending school and Ed, as much as I paid any attention, hung out with the geeky looking "gunners"(aka brown nosers) in their ironed, button down shirts.

This crowd included some guy named Pawlenty. You know the types, always prepared for class and had their hands up even though the professors used the Socratic method of ambush and embarrass. Not quite the intellectuals they imagined themselves to be, but long on ambition and loved the sound of their own voice, even when they had nothing important to say. This was the crowd you quietly resented if you were a student like me, (i.e. still behaving like an undergraduate which meant I was often unprepared, wore wrinkled t-shirts and still feeling the effects from the night before).

Before I know it, the segment is over and I still wasn't quite sure what the story with Ed's voice was all about, but now my curiosity was stirred.

I quickly googled “Ed Garvey and energy security" and came up with a link to a news release from the Governor announcing the creation of the Minnesota Office of Energy Security within the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The news release included excerpts from the Governor's statement, including the following:

“Clean energy and energy security is a critical issue to Minnesota’s future. This organizational change will keep Minnesota moving towards a better energy future.”

The Governor appointed Commerce Department Deputy Commissioner Edward Garvey to also become the director of the new office. Garvey will coordinate energy and climate issues throughout the administration. Creating a focused office on energy security will allow the public easier access to energy information and technical assistance.

The Office of Energy Security will be housed in and receive administrative support from the Department of Commerce and there is no fiscal impact from this change.
“This structural change will support Governor Pawlenty’s efforts to secure a clean energy future,” said Glenn Wilson, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “Edward Garvey is the right person to lead this new office because of the universal respect he enjoys from all sectors of the energy industry.”

“The right person for the position." Hmm. Let's see, last thing I remembered hearing about Ed was the infrequent paragraph in the self-importance column of legal and political rags, often accompanied by a photograph of the sell outs with a drink in their hand sucking up to someone or bragging how they made partner in some corporate law firm. I have to admit that I was always a little jealous every time I read that Ed had got himself appointed to some well paying position or another on some supposedly quasi-public board that is really just a front for the corporate and political powers that be (e.g. Department of Commerce, Public Utilities Commission, etc.). But what the hell, we all gotta make a living.

Anyway, I think the Governor's creation of a State Office of Energy Security makes perfect Pawlenty sense. After all, the current Republican Administration's national energy security plan in Iraq is going so well, why not create a state office too. I know, let's name as its head a political appointee who already holds down another position in your administration. Oh yeah, I forgot, that didn't work out so well over at MN DOT or at least former Republican Governor Arne Carlson doesn't think so.

Well Governor, I suppose it could have been worse. You could have called up Mike Hatch and asked if Judy Dutcher was available to serve on an E 85 Commission. Dutcher would fit right in, although now a Democrat, she use to be a Republican, has little if any formal education in the subject or qualifications and I also remember her from the U dorms, in my sophomore year, but that's for another story.

Oh, the question in Carnac's envelope was: Name 3 things Judy Dutcher and Ed Garvey know little about.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Latest Gallup Tracking Poll: Obama Leads Clinton In National Popular Vote

Polling Data

Poll Date Sample Obama Clinton Spread

RCP Average 02/01 - 02/14 - 45.1 44.3 Obama +0.8

Gallup Tracking 02/12 - 02/14 1217 V 47 45 Obama +2.0
Rasmussen Tracking 02/11 - 02/14 900 LV 48 40 Obama +8.0
AP-Ipsos 02/07 - 02/10 520 A 41 46 Clinton +5.0
USA Today/Gallup 02/08 - 02/09 525 A 47 44 Obama +3.0
Newsweek 02/06 - 02/07 602 RV 42 41 Obama +1.0
Time 02/01 - 02/04 439 LV 42 48 Clinton +6.0
CNN 02/01 - 02/03 500 RV 49 46 Obama +3.0

Why Congressional Investigations Into Bush Administration’s Politicalization of Justice Department and Firing of U.S. Attorneys Are So Important

When House Republicans walked out Thursday, in part to protest a resolution citing former White House counsel Harriet Miers and current chief of staff Joshua Bolten for contempt of congress for failing to obey subpoenas in connection with the controversial dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and 2007, they wanted you to believe that the Democrats’ action is nothing more than a political witch hunt. As is usual for the rhetoric coming out of Republicans these days, nothing could be further from the truth.

The record is replete with reliable evidence that this administration has broken federal civil service law by packing career positions at Justice and other federal agencies with lawyers who are religious and ideological zealots, often from tier four (i.e. the lowest tier) law schools such as evangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian based, Regent University Law School.

“Not long ago, it was rare for Regent graduates to join the federal government. But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James, to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management -- essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni…

Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft, then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.

Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.”

“As the dean of a lower-ranked law school that benefited from the Bush administration's hiring practices, Jeffrey Brauch of Regent made no apologies in a recent interview for training students to understand what the law is today, and also to understand how legal rules should be changed to better reflect "eternal principles of justice," from divorce laws to abortion rights.” Id.

"We anticipate that many of our graduates are going to go and be change agents in society," Brauch said.” Id. At page 3.

In fact, before the Bush Administration took over in 2001, most career attorney hires came from a law school with a ranking in the top 15 schools nationwide. By 2006, this average ranking had dropped to top 65 schools nationwide. Reason for the drop, over 150 hires from Regent Law School alone. Reason for concern? You bet.

As a criminal defense lawyer and son of a former Justice Department official, the idea that the federal government’s career attorneys are no longer crème de la crème, but rather, are hired on the basis of some kind of ideological litmus test, is absolutely outrageous and dangerous. Couple this with the scandal over the unprecedented mid-administration dismissal of the 9 U.S. Attorneys, who are, although political appointees, supposed to make decisions as the chief federal law enforcement officers of their districts in an unbiased and non-political way. There is mounting evidence that many of these dismissals were in response to their refusing to engage in politicized behavior.

Congressional oversight hearings, which only got underway after the Democrats retook bare majorities in both houses, are uncovering the sordid truth including pressure on U.S. Attorneys to bring questionable voter fraud prosecutions lawsuits in election year 2004. This type of voter suppression conduct is expressly verboten by official Justice Department policy. But hey, with the paragons of right-wing virtue that are the Republican party these days, the ends always justify the means, whether its national security, our international reputation or respect for civil liberties and the rule of law.

"It used to be that high-level DOJ jobs were generally reserved for the best of the legal profession," wrote a contributor to The New Republic website. ". . . That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the DOJ."

That last statement says it all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

House Republicans Take a Walk, Leave America “Unprotected”

In a cowardly move right out of the Iraqi Parliament’s playbook, Republicans walked out of the House Chambers en masse Thursday afternoon to protest the House Democrats refusal to pass the deceptively named Protect America Act. The walk-out came right before the House were to vote on a resolution citing former White House counsel Harriet Miers and current chief of staff Joshua Bolten for contempt of congress for failing to obey subpoenas in connection with the controversial dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and 2007.

But House Republicans also protested the Democrat's refusal to bring up for a vote the Protect America Act, a Senate-passed bill supported by President Bush to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Said act is an attempt on behalf of the Bush Administration to legitimize its illegal wiretapping and interception of domestic telecommunications traffic without obtaining a warrant. This has been going on for at least the last five years and was only recently brought to light by the New York Times.

The major sticking point has been over whether to give the telecommunication companies such as AT&T and others immunity for their complicity in the government’s illegal conduct. The truly patriotic actions were those of the House Democrats, who refused to cave in to the administration’s falsehoods and pressure tactics and let the legislation expire. Despite the administration’s rhetoric, this poses no danger to the country as the FISA courts are all caught up and ready to act on any new warrant requests. Under existing FISA law, any telecommunications company cooperating with the government pursuant to a court certified investigation has immunity. Furthermore, any intercept programs currently underway at the time the stop gap legislations expires this Saturday will continue unaffected for up to one year.

One of the main reasons I keep my overpriced land lines with Qwest is because of its good corporate citizenship and patriotism in refusing to participate in helping the Bush Administration trash the constitution. The farcical and highly hypocritical protests on behalf of the House Republicans and President Bush is eloquently laid bare in David Welna and Melissa Block’s excellent report of February 14, 2008 entitled “House Democrats Face Off On Wiretapping Bill” which can be found at the following link:

Before you jump to any conclusions in response to the President and Republican’s characterization of this issue, (i.e. that the Democrats refusal to pass the legislation at this time has left the country “unprotected”), you must listen to this report and hear the expert interviewed who explains with precision why, what they say, is simply untrue.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Mexico Sends Hillary A Valentine

Senator Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner of the New Mexico caucus, some nine days after the event took place. Sen. Clinton beat Barack Obama by 1709 votes.

The Clinton campaign, which before today's announcement had lost eight contests in a row to Sen. Barack Obama since their Super Tuesday split decision, got a much needed shot in the arm and the perfect Valentines Day gift.

Clemens Posts Ineffective Outting; Craig's Stance Ruled Outside the Box

Roger Clemens’ performance in Washington yesterday was largely ineffective. Instead of his usual repertoire of fastballs, curveballs and sliders, Roger threw a strange, almost unbelievable assortment, consisting mainly of brush backs and wild pitches. However, this time Clemens was fooling no one and it was Clemens' friend and former teammate, Andy Pettite, who threw Clemens a devastating changeup.

A short distance from where Clemens was flailing away, umpires had ruled Larry Craig's wide stance to be outside the batting box, but failed to toss him from the game.

An Astros vs. Nationals baseball game in the nation's capitol? An intramural Senate Staffers softball game? Hardly. Rather, the above accounts described Clemens testimony Wednesday before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which was investigating steroid and performance enhancing drug use in major league baseball and the Senate Ethics Committee ruling, also Wednesday, that Idaho Senator Larry Craig had acted improperly when he was arrested in a MSP airport bathroom in an alleged gay sex sting last year.

As a criminal defense lawyer I can only scratch my head and wonder how an experienced attorney can let their client give sworn testimony in a tribunal where federal felony penalties for perjury attach without instructing their client to assert their Fifth Amendment Right under the U.S. Constitution to remain silent, unless of course they are granted immunity, preferably blanket immunity, but at least use immunity.

The leak to the press last week by Clemens' former trainer and alleged injector of steroids and HGH, Brian McNamee, that he had turned over to investigators bloody gauzes and syringes allegedly containing traces of Clemens DNA and banned substances, surely must have put Clemens lawyers on notice that their client was treading very thin ice, all issues of chain of custody besides. Complicating matters for Clemens was the release of an Affidavit by friend and former teammate, Andy Pettite, which alleged that Clemens had admitted to Pettite his use of performance enhancing drugs. In return for his affidavit, Pettite was released from having to testify live before the commission. In light of the above information, one can only presume that the arrogance that comes from being a professional sports legend overrode his high paid legal advice and resulted in Clemens' decision to testify.

Senator Craig seems to have fared better when his self-inflicted troubles were met with an appropriate response by the bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee. Craig had initially attempted to explain his actions of tapping his feet and touching feet with the occupant of an adjacent bathroom stall, an undercover airport policeman, by characterizing his behavior as accidental, coincidental and as a result of his having a “wide stance" while defecating.

The Ethics Committee stated in a letter Wednesday:

“The conduct to which you pled guilty, together with your related conduct as set forth above, constitute improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate and through this letter the Select Committee on Ethics, on behalf of and pursuant to authority granted by the United States Senate, publicly admonishes you for that conduct...

The Select Committee on Ethics resolves this matter through your public admonition so that, on behalf of the United States Senate, it may make known clearly that the conduct to which you pled guilty, together with the related and subsequent conduct discussed in this letter, is improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate."

The committee also criticized Craig for using more than $200,000 in campaign funds to pay legal fees related to his case and for flashing his Senate business card at the officer who arrested him. The letter said that move could be seen as an improper attempt to receive “special and favorable treatment."

The Senate Ethics Committee took no further action against the disgraced senator whose term is up this year and who has announced that he has no plans to run for re-election.

Clemens had better hope that he gets off so easy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Overtakes Hillary In Delegate Count

Associated Press
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 (Washington)

Senator Barack Obama powered past Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for Democratic convention delegates on a night of triumph sweetened with outsized primary victories in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

John McCain won all three Republican primaries on Tuesday, adding to his insurmountable lead in delegates for the Republican nomination.

''Tonight we're on our way,'' Obama told cheering supporters in Madison, Wisconsin, celebrating eight straight victories over Clinton, the former first lady is now struggling in a race she once commanded.

The Associated Press count of delegates showed Obama with 1,210. Clinton had 1,188, falling behind for the first time since the campaign began.

Neither was close to the 2,025 needed to win the nomination at the party's national convention this summer in Denver.

A Time for Underdogs

I woke up shivering, like most below zero mornings these days, without any blankets or comforter. The three year old I share my bed with, a beagle named Sausage who was abandoned to me by a friend and client on his way to serve a short jail sentence almost two years ago, had again rooted under the covers sometime in the night stripping me of my warmth. As I engaged in a tug of war in an attempt to get back at least a portion of the covers, my clock radio announced in the background that a beagle named Uno had won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show, the first time this lowly, thieving breed has ever won the dog world's most prestigious honor.

The biggest news surrounding underdogs of late has been from the campaign trail. By that I mean the controversy swirling like a Minnesota winter NW wind between the Democratic presidential candidate camps over who deserved the label frontrunner and who legitimately could go by the more coveted title of underdog. You see, this country loves an underdog.

Unless you lived in New England or were the house in Vegas, you most likely were pulling for the Giants to win the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago. If you lived in Minnesota in 1998 you most likely pulled for Jesse Ventura to win a couple of gubernatorial races ago. If you lived in a primary or caucus state the last few weeks you most likely voted for Obama in the Democratic Party race.

Therefore, it has really been no surprise that the Obama and Clinton campaigns traded barbs this past week over which candidate was the true underdog. I heard Barack on TV extolling the formidableness of the Clinton machine only to hear of heads rolling at Clinton headquarters the very next news cycle. I also heard
Sen. Clinton, sounding a lot like Poor Polly Purebread extolling the attributes and feats of the Democrat's beagle turned super hero, Obama.

Let's see...the Giants winning the Super Bowl and breaking the bank in Vegas, the beagle winning at Westminster, the writers' union winning concessions in Hollywood and Mike Huckabee's resurgence in the South...A time for underdogs indeed!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Latest Poll: Clinton Still Leading Obama In Democratic Race 46 to 41 Percent.

Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail
By The Associated Press – 1 hour ago


WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama has a narrow lead over John McCain in a potential presidential matchup, while Hillary Rodham Clinton is about even with the Republican front-runner, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll indicated Monday.
The survey is the first look at voter sentiment since last week's Super Tuesday presidential contests around the country and Mitt Romney's departure from the GOP race. Obama and Clinton are battling in a Democratic campaign that may take weeks or even months to resolve, while McCain, an Arizona senator, is the likely Republican nominee.
Obama led McCain in the poll by 48 percent to 42 percent when people were asked which one they would prefer if the presidential race were held now. Clinton got 46 percent to McCain's 45 percent in their matchup.
The poll shows Clinton leading Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination, 46 percent to 41 percent. McCain is well ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has remained in the Republican contest, by 44 percent to 30 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has 9 percent.
The survey was conducted from Feb. 7-10 and involved telephone interviews with 1,029 adults. It had an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

McCain And GOP House Band Win Grammy for “National Security"

One doesn't need the help of Nancy Reagan's astrologist or a tea leaf reader these days to predict the Republican Party's game plan as we approach November's general election. All one has to do is peruse the headlines:

Budget Projects More al-Qaida Captures, By MATTHEW LEE, WASHINGTON (AP);

Senior Taliban Commander Caught in Pakistan, By Gul Yousufzai, Reuters;

Gates: Pause in Iraq Drawdown After July 'Makes Sense', BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN);

With the economy tanking due to 7 years of disastrous GOP tax-cut and spend fiscal policies, and with the probable Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, in a break from his recent “Throw Truth From the Train" (i.e now supports making Bush tax cuts permanent) policy and a rare return to the “The Straight Talk Express" admitting candidly: “The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book", it doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind is gonna blow.

“National security, national security, national security, oh yeah, national security" sang McCain and the Republican house band, Johnny One Note and the Patriots at last night's Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. McCain and the GOP house band won the Grammy for most repetitive political issue by a presidential candidate for their ode “National Security". Johnny One Note and the Patriots will be performing at a poltical rally near you through November.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Delegate Count 2025: If Man is Still Alive. If Woman Can Survive…

Remember that AM radio pop hit from the 1960’s by Zager and Evans entitled In the Year 2525:

“In the year 2525
If man is still alive.
If woman can survive, they may find…”

I know, I know…sorry. Now you’ll have that dang song stuck in your head all day.

If you can excuse my taking liberties with your song lyrics, Mssgrs. Zager and Evans, the theme music to this election year’s Democratic Primary Race could aptly be your song:

“Delegate Count 2025
If man is still alive.
If woman can survive, Democrats may find…their candidate”

Just think of all the new mechanical revenues this would bring in as a result of the networks going down into the cobweb encrusted vaults of their radio affiliates and dusting off old 45 rpm copies of your record to play as Campaign Election Coverage bumper music.

The more pertinent question may actually be, can the Democratic Party survive a brokered Democratic National Convention in August to reunify in time for the November general election. The race appears to be a dead heat as far as the eye can see.

A candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic Party's endorsement. After Obama’s decisive victories over Senator Clinton in the states of Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska yesterday, the delegate count is virtually even: approximately 1,100 for Clinton to 1039 for Obama, including super delegates. These super delegates, however, are free to switch their allegiance at any time, and being made up of party and and elected officials, you can expect them to jump on or off whichever bandwagon best serves their personal interest.

Other than said super delegates, who the Democrats endorse could very well come down to what decision is made to the question over whether the Michigan and Florida delegates are seated. As you remember, the DNC stripped those states of their delegates because they violated party rules and moved their state primaries up in an attempt to make their respective states more relevant in helping choose the party’s endorsement. As fate and the law of unexpected consequences often holds, to the DNC’s chagrin, Michigan and Florida may actually hold the key. The question remains, however, who turns the key, DNC members or the party’s electorate.

With next week’s mid-Atlantic races favoring Obama and the March and April contests in the big, delegate rich states of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania currently favoring Clinton (although polls could change as the race is breaking more and more in Barack’s favor), the Dems may have a real mess on their hands come August in Denver at their convention.

Delegate Count 2025 indeed!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is Clinton Campaign Capitalizing On False Rumors About Obama's Religion? Just Hold Your Horses...

The other day I was talking politics with a union ironworker friend of mine. I have to say that my friend's politics have matured considerably since I first met him. By that I mean, he is no longer solely concerned with a candidate's views on the welfare state or Second Amendment rights, but has grown to appreciate that maybe it is in the best interest of working class people to vote for candidates who will support their economic interests.

However, my friend apparently still communicates with a social circle that spreads via emails the nasty little whisper campaign of falsehoods for the far right through working people who don't have the time or inclination to check out the lies they are disseminating.

Specifically, my friend was under the misinformation that Barack Obama was a Muslim, (not that there is anything wrong with that), but which is absolutely, 100% untrue. When I asked my friend what he was basing this falsehood on, he replied that he had received an email from someone showing a picture of Obama allegedly not placing his hand over his heart and refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance! Well, there you have it! Prima facie proof Obama is a Muslim! Well, what a bunch of bullsh#t!

Normally, I would just point out the inaccuracies of such crap and move on, but yesterday I was surfing the net and reading a news article on that horrible shooting in the City Council Chambers in Missouri when I noticed an ad for the Hillary Clinton Campaign showing a picture of her with her hand over her heart. See Hillary Clinton Campaign ad on right side of post.
Now, I am not one to believe in conspiracy theories, at least not those that are absurd or based on absolutely no evidence (i.e. Al Qaeda was behind 911 and brought down the twin towers and Oswald did act alone, etc.) but aren't the Clinton people, (whose candidacy I am personally leaning to with my support) just too savvy for this to be merely a coincidence? Or, is the message that the photo of Hillary with her hand over her heart really just conveying the universal symbol of earnestness?

A closer examination of the photo reveals what appears to be a wedding ring on Sen. Clinton's finger. This would logically make it her left hand on her chest, therefore I am inclined to believe the latter explanation and will give the Clinton Campaign the benefit of the doubt here.

Taliban Hear French Are Coming, Break out the Silverware

Not since the Ethiopians beat back Mussolini's then modern Italian Army of artillery, tanks and planes with spears, has a third world indigenous population been so unafraid as the Taliban was this week to the news that the French are considering deploying a whopping 1,000 troops to Southern Afghanistan. See Time Magazine article at,8599,1711267,00.html?xid=feed-rss-netzero

The news of the French possibly entering the fray some six years late, is clearly attributable to the fiasco that is the Bush Administration foreign policy and its refusal to at least consult and listen to, though not necessarily follow, the advice of our allies. Even Dr. Phil knows that most people just want to be listened to. But the arrogant posture of the Bush Administration and its "you're either with us or against us" mentality has made us weaker in the war on terrorism despite all the chest beating on behalf of Republican presidential candidates and their followers.

I certainly don't mean to imply that we are ungrateful to those NATO country allies such as the Canadians and the Dutch, who along with us have borne the brunt of the fighting in Afghanistan despite the fact that our planes have killed almost as many Canadians as the Taliban. I also think it was a sign of the desperation that is the Bush foreign policy that Defense Secretary Gates had to publicly shame our NATO allies this week before we started to get any semblance of cooperation on the crisis that is now Afghanistan.

This crisis in Afghanistan could have been averted of course had we not started to withdraw our special forces and other troops right before the final push on Tora Bora where we had Bin Laden all but trapped, to get ready for the disastrous and illegal invasion of Iraq. Now we are left with publicly blackmailing our allies for even minimal military support in a just war of counterinsurgency at a time that is hopefully not too late.

Reading the Time magazine article this week I got this image in my mind of the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders spreading out a red and white checkered blanket and setting out silverware from a wicker picnic basket somewhere in the remote reaches of the Hindu Kush mountains, getting ready for fine French cuisine.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Then There Were Three: Goodbye Mitt, We Hardly Knew You

Now that Mitt is out and heading back to Missouri aka the Garden of Eden (okay, cheap shot I know, but just had to get one in for Lawrence O'Donnell considering Romney's cheap shot about Democrats wanting to surrender the war on terrorism). See transcript from the McLaughlin Group on 12/07/07
The Republican race has now dwindled to three: McCain, Huckabee and Paul. While not exactly the modern version of the three wise men of yore, each of them has good qualities and positions, but on the whole none of them is the complete package.

I actually use to respect McCain before he forgave Bush for the 2000 South Carolina primary dirty tricks, sucked up to Falwell and Leiberman, and most recently, reversed his opinion on Bush tax cuts for wealthiest of wealthy in a shameless ploy to buy votes from the stupid, greedy and selfish. On the other hand, McCain did take a courageous stand on immigration considering he comes from the party of Tom Tancredo.

Huckabee, of the three, has the most credibility; except of course for the fact that he associates with the worst actor in history, this side of Sly Stallone, Chuck Norris. Seriously, Mike Huckabee has the best ear for the electorate since Bill Clinton. There must be something in the water in “The Natural State" aka Arkansas. I greatly admire Gov. Huckabee for speaking economic populism to the party that sold out the middle class to K Street and its wealthy corporate clients.

Perhaps most importantly, Mike Huckabee is authentic. That is something that certainly could not be said of the recently departed Romney; a man whose whole campaign was centered, at least in the final month, around economic issues and then goes out in a blaze of rhetoric about national security in a time of war. Flip or flop? I've lost track. But hey, Mitt certainly looked presidential, didn't he?

Lastly, and I mean lastly...Ron Paul is dead... on right about the Iraq war, he simply is not realistic on a timetable for withdrawal and a strategy for national security afterwards other than 1930's style isolationism. There is a middle ground you know, Congressman Paul. I do like Paul's libertarian leanings though, especially on issues involving individual rights and morality. Paul will be best remembered for his grassroots campaign, fundraising acumen and igniting interest in the political process among the young and disaffected.

I am going out on a short, sturdy limb here and will predict that McCain picks Huckabee as his running mate, if he is smart. It would give the Republican ticket balance, both ideologically and geographically. Besides, you could not have a more likeable, well-spoken counterweight than Huckabee to the often gruff and disagreeable McCain.

Another good choice along those lines would be the much discussed, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. But frankly, after the I35W bridge collapse and controversy surrounding his administration’s lack of funding for the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation, this would be a real long shot. (Not to mention the controversy over Pawlenty's Lt. Governor wearing two hats, the other being Commissioner of Transportation even though she has no professional qualifications.)

Perhaps the most ridiculous prognostication is the early analysis by pundits that Romney was reaching out to McCain with his withdrawal speech today to maybe be included on the ticket or in McCain's cabinet should he be elected. McCain/Romney? Right! About as much a chance as the Giants winning the Super Bowl!

Letter to Scott Simon, NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday Re: Mike Huckabee

-------------- Original Text -----------------
Date : 1/26/2008 10:43:43 AM

Hi Scott:

Your show is the highlight of my weekend mornings just as much as a good cup of coffee and a donut. I just wanted to suggest a minor correction of an error I have heard the national press make about one of the presidential candidates several times: In you segment on the Whigs (excellent by the way) you asked one of the band members how they thought Mike Huckabee rated as a guitar player.

Huckabee is a bass player and a pretty darned good one or so tells me Arkansas resident and renowned blues guitarist Jimmy Thackery. In fact then Gov Huckabee wrote a "forward" for Thackerys cd with the Cate Brothers entitled "The Natural State" (remove cd to see Gov. Huckabees recommendation).

I'm a Democrat and do not imagine myself voting for a Republican this election, but as a frustrated musician wannabe I think credit should go where it is deserved and I understand his bass playing is far superior to Pres. Clintons sax honkings.

Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2008 12:45:57 -0500
Subject: Re: minor correction

Thank you for contacting NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

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Has the Caucus System Outgrown Its Britches?

According to their official party websites, at last counting, some 212,079 Minnesotans attended Tuesday night’s DFL precinct caucuses and 62,421 attended their Republican counterparts. These numbers smashed all time attendance records. While this is great news for political participation in very troubled times, there is one big catch: many more wanted and tried to attend, but could not.

This criticism, and it is a big one, comes down to a fairly solvable solution, one of logistics. The far more intractable problems and criticisms that have been percolating up over the past 36 hours are those involving the very nature of the caucus system itself. With participation levels such as those described above, is it really fair and/or practical to have neighborhood-sized forums and procedures for small arena sized attendance?

The analogy that comes to mind is that of what kind of participation is more meaningful to you: your local neighborhood church congregation or the mega church, money-oriented superficiality of say, the Mac Hammonds. Paul Wellstone grass roots politics or Michelle Bachman's current game of hide and seek.

Many frustrated caucus attendees and those unable to attend for logistical reasons have opined that the time has finally come for us to switch to a primary system. This has been met with a chorus of resistance from traditionalists who like the town hall, neighborliness of the caucus system and I suspect, reluctant feelings on behalf of those who have been running the shows over the years to give up what little power fiefdoms they have in life. While that criticism may be a little harsh on those truly heroic volunteers who have run mundane caucuses during off year elections, anyone who has attended a caucus and suffered through interminably long, not well thought out or even ridiculous resolutions, knows what I am talking about.

For example, at my local DFL precinct caucus the other night, about half a dozen of my neighbors and fellow citizens got up and made resolutions on a variety of subjects and topics. There is something truly admirable in seeing regular citizens muster up enough courage to get up in front of an audience and speak from the heart. The other night I heard my neighbors speak on everything from changing the negotiation level for local government employee benefits from the state level, governor appointed negotiator down to a local government appointed negotiator, to a ban on torture by the CIA and armed forces, to impeaching Cheney. Some of my fellow citizens resolutions were incredibly well thought out, detailed and some even had copies of their proposed resolution that they handed out so we could quickly move along, God bless them. But, while not trying to be mean here, because these people were obviously very earnest in their desire to right some wrong, whether real or perceived, some were just plain old, down right, nuts.

A nice, older gentlemen (who must have ate too much of that bad brown acid that was going around at the original Woodstock), got up and read his five resolutions with whereas clauses that implied that the U.S. government was behind 911 and the collapse of the twin towers. It is precisely this kind of lunacy that allows the blow hards on the far right to portray liberal Democrats as wing nuts. Frankly, it is this kind of wasting other peoples time that pisses people off to the point where they are ready to scrap all the good, positive, community oriented aspects of the caucus system for a primary system.

The most serious and on target criticism that I have heard came from those DFLers who attended their precinct caucus for the main purpose of expressing their preference for party endorsement for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Norm Coleman. Those unfamiliar with the caucus system or those who did not have access to caucus training materials were totally clueless as to the selection of state senate district convention delegates being the key to expressing their desires.

At our precinct caucus there was absolutely no discussion regarding the positions of the proposed delegates with respect to their leanings of which U.S. Senate candidate to endorse: Ciresi, Franken or Nelson-Pallmeyer. This should have been explicitly explained before the delegate selection process. I intend to bring this issue up in the appropriate committee prior to the next election cycle.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's All About the Timing

It was around 7 P.M. last night that I started to get antsy. My friend still had not arrived and there were already reports of traffic jams and long lines around precinct caucus locations from the local 6:30 P.M. news programs due to a record turnout.

At 7:18 P.M. I hear a faint rap at the kitchen window and the dog, (a 3 year old Beagle named Sausage, abandoned to me by a client on his way to serving a 28 day jail sentence and, for reasons that were to become obvious, never returned for) began his staccato warning bark/howl. “Do we still have time for a quick bevie? Oh what the hell.” We pour a couple of tall, stiff screwdrivers (in honor of the Bush Admin.) from the half full jug of Absolute my friend gave to me for helping him win his taxi cab dispute with a disreputable character from his homeland and quickly pounded them in our heads. “Ready? You driving? Let's Roll...”

We quickly make the 5-block trip to our precinct caucus location, the local United Methodist Church. We knew it would be crowded when we noticed the lack of street parking more than two blocks away from the church. I tell my buddy to turn right and start heading north, away from the street the church is on, when I notice a steady stream of people leaving. Obviously many of those foolish enough to arrive at the designated time of 6:30 P.M. had had their fill of the cheap brand diet pop, bagged junk food and political activist company and were making bee lines for their cars.

“Hold on!” I shout. “There's one right across from the church!” My friend tries to back up from his nearly executed right turn but it becomes apparent there isn't enough room for his converted taxi, now passenger car to park. However, we quickly spy another spot just around the corner, park and make our way like spawning salmon through the oncoming stream of leaving presidential preference voters and enter the church.

Downstairs in the church's basement we are met by a greeter who asks us if this was our usual voting location, which it is, and were asked to step to our right and into a room that looks like it has seen its share of post funeral, hot dish dinners. We quickly register and I cast one of the 2 votes for John Edwards in the presidential straw poll balloting. We later learn, at the end of the night, that in our precinct Obama garners 184 votes to Hillary's 88 in a sampling that would pretty much accurately reflect the statewide vote which only a week ago favored Hillary by about 7% and had now broke heavily for Barack.

We grab the very last two folding chairs in the back row and at approximately 7:45 P.M. settle down to hear the agenda for the evening. We promptly elect the MC our precinct chair and other mundane pieces of business before we got to the red meat of the evening, our state senate district convention delegate election. These delegates would be the people to choose the delegates for the state convention where the party endorsement for the U.S. Senate seat will be decided.

After a reading a short statement from the party encouraging minorities and those historically underrepresented to participate, the floor is opened up for those willing to serve as one of the 36 delegates our precinct is allotted. My left hand shoots up while at the same time my right elbow nudges my friend, the only person of color in the room. With a head nod I encourage him to raise his hand for a position he had told me just a minute ago he was reluctant to
volunteer for. Before we know it we are elected delegates! Talk about timing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off To Caucus For Al I Go...

Well it's finally arrived, Caucus Time! In about half an hour, my good friend and neighbor is hopefully going to come over so we can have a couple of beverages to fortify us for the work ahead tonite. My neighbor is an immigrant from East Africa who I greatly admire and it will be interesting to watch as he experiences his first caucus.

I am still undecided with respect to the presidential preference vote as my first choice and the candidate whom I have the most invested in, emotionally, John Edwards, dropped out the day after I attended his last rally in St. Paul.

The main reason I am attending tonite is to support my candidate for U.S. Senate, Al Franken. I have been hoping that Mr. Franken would run for office ever since hearing his speech against predatory lending to the National Press Corps way back in February of 2002, before it was on anyone's radar screen.

I then became a devoted listener to his Air America radio show, which contrary to the Republican propaganda machine, was not an angry, left-wing version of Rush Limbaugh! Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Franken's show was in fact a show for policy wonks or political geeks and rather than being angry, it was often gentle, always intellectual in nature and fact based with an incredible web page with footnotes to original sources on almost everything discussed. Franken had the most knowlegable guests, whether they agreed with him or not and graciously gave those who differed with him a soap box, such as his childhood friend and Limbaugh devotee who he gave weekly if not daily time to espouse the Limbaugh point of view. Now he did do satirical bits on Bill O'Reilly, but hey, with O'Reilly how could anyone resist!

I listened with interest to the debate on MPR today and although I am emotionally invested with Al, I do have great professional admiration for Mike Ciresi who is like Superman to us mere mortal trial lawyers. Surprisingly, the candidate who may have done the best in today's debate was Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer who was an unknown commodity to me before today. But taking everything into consideration, including which candidate is in the best position to beat Norm Coleman this fall, the only choice for Paul Wellstone's old seat is Al Franken. Period. Exclaimation Point!!!!!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Welcome Prairie Fire Readers To The Great Roll Call

To all my friends and any strangers who may have stumbled upon my blog, Prairie Fire by Plainsense, by mistake; welcome to my new site effective today, February 4, 2008.

If you have enjoyed reading my posts or if I have pissed you off with my opinions, well, at least you’re not dead, yet! I describe the new site as A Journal of Progressive American Political Thought in Election Year 2008.

I look forward to sharing plain talk and progressive ideas with you as this incredibly important election year unfolds. Remember tomorrow is Super Tuesday, so get off your a$# and do something to help change this country for the better. Otherwise, quit your whining!

As then candidate Jimmy Carter said in 1976: “I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people."


As pertinent as those words were to the political dialogue of 1976, in the wake of the Nixon presidency and the constitutional crisis that was Watergate, those words were like “Deja vu All Over Again" (to quote John Fogerty) in the election year 2004.

One of this country's greatest failings, in my humble opinion, is the failure to adequately teach history to our students, especially in the public schools. I speak this with some credibility as I have scored Standards of Learning Exams (i.e. “No Child Left Behind") on three occasions over the past year and while there are always a small minority of students who are simply inspiring in their knowledge and abilities, the overall curve, to me, seems like a downward spiral.

The great 20th Century Spanish philosopher and pragmatist, author George Santayana famously said of history “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,". From Reason in Common Sense, the first volume of his The Life of Reason. A somewhat lesser known quote of Santayana's, though equally applicable today, was his observation concerning patriotism: “A man's feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world."

For all of the reasons stated above, perhaps most importantly that tomorrow is Super Tuesday; I think it would be a good time to reflect on former President Jimmy Carter's remarks to the 2004 Democratic Party National Convention in Boston in its entirety:

“My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president. But here's what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.

Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president, and I said then, "I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people." I say this again tonight, and that is exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States.

As many of you know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles.

At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace. I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties. Both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders-in-chief, they exercised restraint and judgment and had a clear sense of mission. We had confidence that our leaders, military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating "wars of choice" unless America's vital interests were endangered.

We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when it came to issues involving our nation's security. Today, our Democratic party is led by another former naval officer -- one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.

He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership, and I am confident that next January he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that is sorely lacking today. I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.

As you know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education, and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists. But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America -- based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth -- without trust -- America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.

In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.

Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace -- a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein -- has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia. These are some of the prices of our government's radical departure from the basic American principles and values espoused by John Kerry!

In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common- sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth will define America's role in the world.

At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul. In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: do not underestimate us Americans. We lack neither strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards. Thank you and God bless America!"

Now go out and caucus or vote!

Giants Kill Patriot Act

Finally, a game worthy of the name and hype. While I was rooting for the underdogs throughout, I would have been happy for ex-Viking Randy Moss and Gopher great Laurence Maroney had the Patriots pulled it out.

Now my friends out in Providence know how we felt in Minnesota in 1998 when the Vikings' great, 15-1 regular season team lost to Atlanta in the NFC championship game. (A game Greg and I watched at Pat O'Brien's Bar in New Orleans the day following Roomful's show at the House of Blues.)

Eli Manning was certainly worthy of the game MVP. Manning's cool leadership under pressure made Brady look like the rookie and Eli the seasoned all-pro rather than vice versa. A collective MVP should go out to the Giants defensive unit for their ferocious pass rush and spectacular secondary play. Play of the game goes to the immaculate, helmet reception.

There'll be a high time in the Big Apple tonite! Hopefully Mayor Blomberg won't take this as some kind of divine sign from above and enter the race. After all, two New York Miracles are enough! (Remember Hillary's come from behind win in New Hampshire?)

*Originally published 2/03/08 on blogspot Prairie Fire by Plainsense c. 2008

To Watch the Super Bowl, or Rally for Hillary, — that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous (political) fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles (Iraq War),
And by opposing end them? (Republican Presidency) — To die, to sleep, —
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd (Universal Health Care). To die, to sleep; —
To sleep, perchance to dream (Obama's candidacy of Hope): — ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong (Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib), the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay (continuing illegal spying on U.S. citizens, Justice Dept. in disarray and obstruction of congressional oversight)
The insolence of office (George Bush), and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes (Wall Street fraud, obscene oil companies profits and tax cuts for wealthiest)
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life (the dwindling middle and working classes),
But that the dread of something after death, —
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns (New Passport Requirement for North American travel), — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know naught of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all (McCain's rhetoric on opponents to surge);
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

*Sampling credit: Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, scene 1

Hillary Clinton brings her Solutions for the American Economy to Minneapolis today,
Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM at Augsburg College -- Melby Hall
725 23rd Ave South.

Exclusive Super Bowl XLII Coverage of Patriots vs. Giants begins at 5:17 P.M. (Central Time) on Fox.

(Note: Bill Clinton will be watching the game with former candidate, Gov. Bill Richardson in New Mexico.)

*Originally published 2/03/08 on blogspot Prairie Fire by Plainsense c. 2008

Groundhog Day 2008: Same As It Ever Was

This morning I awoke to the cackling of my clock radio informing me that we have six more weeks of winter ahead. Well, no sh#t! As a resident of Minnesota, I really didn't need the prognostication of Punxsutawney Phil to tell me that. Alot like the irrelevance of weather coverage on local television news programs, I can simply stick my head outside to see what the weather is and I am enough of an adult to figure out by myself what the appropriate outer wear for the day is, thank you very much.

Well another year has gone by but the news just seems to be recycling itself. Bombs exploding in Baghdad with horrific casulties, coups and inter-tribal murder in Africa and Republicans trying to buy another election with promises of ill-advised tax cuts and the continuation of the big lies from the Reagan era: that supply side economic theory works and that the Democrats are the party of taxation and deficit spending.

Much like Benjamin Franklin's wry reasoning well over 200 years ago, ("Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."); any American voting in the 2008 election who would sell their vote to McCain or Romney for the promise of another huge tax cut for the wealthiest among us (i.e. making the Bush tax cuts permanent) at a time when we are deficit spending on a $1 Trillion Dollar plus war of choice is neither a conservative nor a patriot.

*Originally published 2/02/08 on blogspot Prairie Fire by Plainsense c. 2008

“Uncounted": NOT the Celluloid Equivalent of Yelling Fire In A Crowded Theater

Yesterday, 1/30/08, my sister invited me to attend with her the Minnesota premiere of “Uncounted, the New Math of American Elections" by David Earnhardt at the Riverview Theater in South Minneapolis (see

Although I was aware of many of the issues raised by the documentary, I was unaware of the lack of action in response to these issues. This is surprising and very troubling in light of all the problems experienced in the last four election cycles.

I am not a conspiracy theorist nor a fringe political junkie, but rather a mainstream Minnesotan and attorney and greatly troubled by the issues and uncontroverted facts highlighted in the film. The discrepancy between exit polls and eventual vote tallies alone demands greater scrutiny by the mainstream press.

Please use your voice and whatever privileged bully pulpit you may have to seek answers and demand change on behalf of all citizens. The integrity of our voting system is NOT a partisan issue. If democracy and the legitimacy of our political system means anything to you, YOU MUST SEE THIS FILM! Thank you for your consideration.

*Originally published 1/31/08 on blogspot Prairie Fire by Plainsense c. 2008

I'll Take You There...or Maybe Not

Last night, my sister and I ventured out into a brittle 14 degree (f) below zero, 36 degree below zero windchill, St. Paul night to see our presidential candidate, John Edwards for what has turned out to be one of his last campaign appearances. With the strains of Springsteen's "The Rising" still ringing in my ears, I woke up this morning to NPR on my clock radio informing me that Edwards is bowing out of the race.

I must say that I can't help but feel a little whipsawed here. My progressive candidate, who pumped up an overflow crowd at the Carpenters Union Hall on St. Paul's Eastside last nite, speaking truth to corporate power and vowing to stay in the race to the bitter end, is calling it quits? Say it ain't so.

In reality, Edwards faced an insurmountable challenge. The only candidate who refused to take money from pacs and special interests, could not possibly wage the war of financial attrition with the public warchest when his opponents refused to abide by the public financing limitations. With such an uneven playing field, the candidate who had the superior message, issues and detailed plans on how to address this nation's problems got muscled out by the money of influence and ignored by a press more concerned with the personalities and egos of his bickering opponents.

Perhaps one of this campaign cycles biggest disappointments will be the loss of the Edwards' campaign taste in music. While his Democratic opponents used everything from Canadian Celene Dion to the Uk's Police and Ireland's U2, the Edwards people got revved up on good ol' American music, specifically soul music. Although Edwards was his customary, lawyerly 45 minutes late last night, the crowd, which was bundled up for the frigid artic cold and now getting uncomfortably hot in the packed union hall, was swaying to the beat of Sam and Dave ("Soul Man" and "Hold On I'm Coming"), the Isleys ("Shout"), Ike and Tina Turner ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough") and Mavis Staples' "I'll Take You There". Well, I guess not.

*Originally published 1/30/08 on blogspot Prairie Fire by Plainsense c. 2008