Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Now I know why I don't own a gun...

About 1:00am last night, the crackhead (our dog) starts going ballistic. Well, instead of getting up to see what his problem was, we kept yelling at him to shut up.

Turns out he was on to something...

When I got out to the cab this morning, I'd noticed that the door wasn't all the way closed. You guessed it; Some punk took advantage of the fact that I forgot to re-lock the car and helped himself a few minor items.

Now, I'm not as pissed off about what was taken as opposed to the fact that some asshole that did not belong, was snooping around in the cab.

But now to my point...

Had I owned a gun of any kind, handgun or riffle, I would not have thought twice about plugging the little bastard. And for what? A flashlight, a cheap video camera and a couple of bucks in coin? Bet your ass!

This is the exact reason I do not own a firearm. Now if someone like me, who I think is a fairly rational guy, would go to that extreme over petty theft, what would happen in that situation if the victim was a bit more of a hot head?

The Supreme Court recently ruled that every American has the basic right to own a firearm. This nullifies a Chicago city ordinance restricting gun possession. Did that ruling make us just a little more dangerous of a society?

In principle, I do agree with people exercising their 2nd amendment rights. However, there are some people that just should not own a gun. And I'm one of them. But yet, I'm sure I'd have no problem obtaining a permit.

Other than no history of mental illness and a clean criminal record, I don't think there are many obstacles to getting a gun permit. If I had a say, there would be about a 100 question quiz to answer, just to make sure someone with a hare trigger mentality would not be allowed to posses a gun.

This brings to mind the case of Joe Horn. A Texas man who shot and killed one of two individuals that he caught burglarizing his neighbor's home. While some applauded Horn's actions, fact is, someone's life ended that night, all in the name of vigilante justice.

I don't have a quick answer here. I fear that as more everyday citizens arm themselves, the chances of increased gun violence will rise, as tougher economic times force more people to resort criminal activities in order to pay for drug habits or food, for that matter.

But if you are thinking of ripping someone off, keep in mind, the person that owns that car you're breaking in to may just have you in his sights.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If done right, rail travel could flourish...

I was just sitting here in line waiting for a fare off the Amtrak station, when it dawned on me, that one of the reasons that ridership on the Amtrak service might be down a bit, is because it is not always the most convenient way to travel. For example, I like to go down to Kansas City every now and then. If I were to take the train, it would take 18 or more hours to complete what would normally be an 8 hour drive or at worst a 10 hour ride via Greyhound.

Chicago serves as the hub for all of Amtrak's midwestern routes. Which isn't bad if you want to travel from the Twin Cities to New York City. But if you want to travel south towards Kansas City for Dallas, it adds an abnormal amount of time to the trip.

The president is a huge supporter of rail transportation in this country. There has already been money allocated for a high-speed line between the Twin Cities and Chicago. While I think that would be nice, I would argue that the existing Amtrak line between the two cities is sufficient.

Instead, how about an Amtrak line between Duluth and San Antonio, Texas. With stops in the Twin Cities, Des Moines, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas. This I-35 corridor is already one of the heaviest traveled highway routes in the Midwest. This would also consolidate a couple of other routes on the Amtrak system.

Whether it's inter-city or inter-state, if you want people to use a public mode of transportation, it has to be efficient and somewhat convenient. Rail transport has proved to be much more fuel efficient than trucks or buses. So why not build build a more user friendly Amtrak system that would use less energy than the existing Greyhound lines for cross country travel. Then possibly, you could employ a bus line to serve as a feeder to the train.

Just as in the famous line from the movie, "Field of Dreams," build it and they will come.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Flasher in Como Park may be suspect in recent rape...

Police are investigating whether a flashing in St. Paul's Como neighborhood today is connected to the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman about a week ago.

After a man exposed himself to a woman jogging around Lake Como, police said today they would be increasing patrols in the area. They also urged people in the area to take extra safety precautions.

"Investigators are trying to determine if today's incident is linked to the alleged sexual assault that occurred recently in the area, but we can't say yet if that's the case," St. Paul police spokesman Andy Skoogman said today. "There are some similarities: Both incidents occurred at about the same time of day, both incidents occurred in close proximity to each other and the description of the suspects in both cases is similar."
Today's incident occurred about 5:15 a.m., on the south side of the Lake Como. A 32-year-old woman told police a man jumped out of the bushes and exposed himself. She turned around, ran back to the Como Park Pavilion and called police.

She described the suspect as a white man, 25 to 30 years old, about 6 feet tall, with a very thin build and medium-length brown hair.

On June 19, an 18-year-old woman returned to her home in the area of Chatsworth Street and the north end of Lake Como about 5:30 a.m., police said. A man blindfolded and bound the woman before he drove her to an unknown location, where she was held for about 24 hours and sexually assaulted, police said.

Then the man drove the blindfolded woman to the Como neighborhood and released her about 7 a.m. June 20.

The woman described the rapist as white, 45 to 50 years old, with a thin build and of moderate height. He had brownish-golden hair and was wearing a dark jacket and dark pants, sunglasses, a bandana and a hat, police said. His vehicle is believed to be an SUV with a gray interior.

Police asked anyone with information about the case to contact the Family and Sexual Violence Unit at 651-266-5685 or call 911.

They asked anyone with information about today's indecent exposure to call police at 651-291-1111.

The department's crime prevention unit gave the following tips to people using Como Park:

Jog, walk and run in pairs
Limit the use of headphones
Carry a cell phone
Be aware of surroundings
Tell friends and/or relatives where you are going and when you plan to return
Report suspicious activity or individuals.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Republicans: The unemployed are lazy, worthless bums

Originally posted by by Jeff Rosenberg via MnPublius.com

Rachel Maddow pulls together the words of a number of Republicans and shows something that’s simply disgusting: Republicans really seem to hate the unemployed. They claim that the unemployed are lazy, drug addicts, even animals. See, I think that the vast majority of the unemployed are victims of an economic collapse driven by a speculative housing bubble. But Republicans see it differently — apparently there are plenty of jobs available; the unemployed are just “spoiled.”

Watch it below:




The Feuding Founding Fathers

Americans lament the partisan venom of today's politics, but for sheer verbal savagery, the country's founders were in a league of their own.

By RON CHERNOW - The Wall Street Journal

In the American imagination, the founding era shimmers as the golden age of political discourse, a time when philosopher-kings strode the public stage, dispensing wisdom with gentle civility. We prefer to believe that these courtly figures, with their powdered hair and buckled shoes, showed impeccable manners in their political dealings. The appeal of this image seems obvious at a time when many Americans lament the partisan venom and character assassination that have permeated the political process.

Unfortunately, this anodyne image of the early republic can be quite misleading. However hard it may be to picture the founders resorting to rough-and-tumble tactics, there was nothing genteel about politics at the nation's outset. For sheer verbal savagery, the founding era may have surpassed anything seen today. Despite their erudition, integrity, and philosophical genius, the founders were fiery men who expressed their beliefs with unusual vehemence. They inhabited a combative world in which the rabble-rousing Thomas Paine, an early admirer of George Washington, could denounce the first president in an open letter as "treacherous in private friendship…and a hypocrite in public life." Paine even wondered aloud whether Washington was "an apostate or an imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any."

Such highly charged language shouldn't surprise us. People who spearhead revolutions tend to be outspoken and courageous, spurred on by a keen taste for combat. After sharpening their verbal skills hurling polemics against the British Crown, the founding generation then directed those energies against each other during the tumultuous first decade of the federal government. The passions of a revolution cannot simply be turned off like a spigot.

By nature a decorous man, President Washington longed for respectful public discourse and was taken aback by the vitriolic rhetoric that accompanied his two terms in office. For various reasons, the political cleavages of the 1790s were particularly deep. Focused on winning the war for independence, Americans had postponed fundamental questions about the shape of their future society. When those questions were belatedly addressed, the resulting controversies threatened to spill out of control.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 had defined a sturdy framework for future debate, but it didn't try to dictate outcomes. The brevity and generality of the new charter guaranteed pitched battles when it was translated into action in 1789. If the constitution established an independent judiciary, for instance, it didn't specify the structure of the federal court system below the Supreme Court. It made no reference to a presidential cabinet aside from a glancing allusion that the president could solicit opinions from department heads. The huge blanks left on the political canvas provoked heated battles during Washington's time in office. When he first appeared in the Senate to receive its advice and consent about a treaty with the Creek Indians, he was so irked by the opposition expressed that he left in a huff. "This defeats every purpose of my coming here," he protested.

Like other founders, Washington prayed that the country would be spared the bane of political parties, which were then styled "factions." "If I could not go to heaven but with a party," Thomas Jefferson once stated, "I would not go there at all." Washington knew that republics, no less than monarchies, were susceptible to party strife. Indeed, he believed that in popularly elected governments, parties would display their "greatest rankness" and emerge as the "worst enemy" to the political system. By expressing narrow interests, parties often thwarted the popular will. In Washington's view, enlightened politicians tried to transcend those interests and uphold the commonweal. He was so opposed to anything that might savor of partisanship that he refused to endorse congressional candidates, lest he seem to be meddling.

In choosing his stellar first cabinet, President Washington applied no political litmus test and was guided purely by the candidates' merits. With implicit faith that honorable gentlemen could debate in good faith, he named Alexander Hamilton as treasury secretary and Jefferson as secretary of state, little suspecting that they would soon become fierce political adversaries. Reviving his Revolutionary War practice, Washington canvassed the opinions of his cabinet members, mulled them over at length, then arrived at firm conclusions. As Hamilton characterized this consultative style, the president "consulted much, pondered much; resolved slowly, resolved surely." Far from fearing dissent within his cabinet, Washington welcomed the vigorous interplay of ideas and was masterful, at least initially, at orchestrating his prima donnas. As Gouverneur Morris phrased it, Washington knew "how best to use the rays" of intellect emitted by the personalities at his command.

During eight strenuous years of war, Washington had embodied national unity and labored mightily to hold the fractious states together; hence, all his instincts as president leaned toward harmony. Unfortunately, the political conflicts that soon arose often seemed intractable: states' rights versus federal power; an agrarian economy versus one intermixed with finance and manufacturing; partiality for France versus England when they waged war against each other. Anything even vaguely reminiscent of British precedent aroused deep anxieties in the electorate.

As two parties took shape, they coalesced around the outsize personalities of Hamilton and Jefferson, despite their joint membership in Washington's cabinet. Extroverted and pugnacious, Hamilton embraced this role far more openly than Jefferson, who preferred to operate in the shadows. Although not parties in the modern sense, these embryonic factions—Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans—generated intense loyalty among adherents. Both sides trafficked in a conspiratorial view of politics, with Federalists accusing the Republicans of trying to import the French Revolution into America, while Republicans tarred the Federalists as plotting to restore the British monarchy. Each side saw the other as perverting the true spirit of the American Revolution.

As Jefferson recoiled from Hamilton's ambitious financial schemes, which included a funded debt, a central bank, and an excise tax on distilled spirits, he teamed up with James Madison to mount a full-scale assault on these programs. As a result, a major critique of administration policy originated partly within the administration itself. Relations between Hamilton and Jefferson deteriorated to the point that Jefferson recalled that at cabinet meetings he descended "daily into the arena like a gladiator to suffer martyrdom in every conflict."

The two men also traded blows in the press, with Jefferson drafting surrogates to attack Hamilton, while the latter responded with his own anonymous essays. When Hamilton published a vigorous defense of Washington's neutrality proclamation in 1793, Jefferson urged Madison to thrash the treasury secretary in the press. "For God's sake, my dear Sir, take up your pen, select the most striking heresies, and cut him to pieces in the face of the public." When Madison rose to the challenge, he sneered in print that the only people who could read Hamilton's essays with pleasure were "foreigners and degenerate citizens among us."

Slow to grasp the deep-seated divisions within the country, Washington also found it hard to comprehend the bitterness festering between Hamilton and Jefferson. Siding more frequently with Hamilton, the president was branded a Federalist by detractors, but he tried to rise above petty dogma and clung to the ideal of nonpartisan governance.

Afraid that sparring between his two brilliant cabinet members might sink the republican experiment, Washington conferred with Jefferson at Mount Vernon in October 1792 and expressed amazement at the hostility between him and Hamilton. As the beleaguered president confided, "he had never suspected [the conflict] had gone so far in producing a personal difference, and he wished he could be the mediator to put an end to it," as Jefferson recorded in a subsequent memo. To Hamilton, Washington likewise issued pleas for an end to "wounding suspicions and irritating charges." Both Hamilton and Jefferson found it hard to back down from this bruising rivalry. To his credit, Washington never sought to oust Jefferson from his cabinet, despite their policy differences, and urged him to remain in the administration to avoid a monolithic uniformity of opinion.

Feeding the venom of party strife was the unrestrained press. When the new government was formed in 1789, most newspapers still functioned as neutral publications, but they soon evolved into blatant party organs. Printing little spot news, with no pretense of journalistic objectivity, they specialized in strident essays. Authors often wrote behind the mask of Roman pseudonyms, enabling them to engage in undisguised savagery without fear of retribution. With few topics deemed taboo, the press lambasted the public positions as well as private morality of leading political figures. The ubiquitous James T. Callender typified the scandalmongers. From his poison-tipped pen flowed the expose of Hamilton's dalliance with the young Maria Reynolds, which had prompted Hamilton, while treasury secretary, to pay hush money to her husband. Those Jeffersonians who applauded Callender's tirades against Hamilton regretted their sponsorship several years later when he unmasked President Jefferson's carnal relations with his slave Sally Hemings.

At the start of his presidency, Americans still viewed Washington as sacrosanct and exempt from press criticism. By the end of his first term, he had shed this immunity and reeled from vicious attacks. Opposition journalists didn't simply denigrate Washington's presidential record but accused him of aping royal ways to prepare for a new monarchy. The most merciless critic was Philip Freneau, editor of the National Gazette, the main voice of the Jeffersonians. Even something as innocuous as Washington's birthday celebration Freneau mocked as a "monarchical farce" that exhibited "every species of royal pomp and parade."

Other journalists dredged up moldy tales of his supposed missteps in the French and Indian War and derided him as an inept general during the Revolutionary War. In his later, anti-Washington incarnation, Thomas Paine gave the laurels for wartime victory against the British to Gen. Horatio Gates. "You slept away your time in the field till the finances of the country were completely exhausted," Paine taunted Washington, "and you had but little share in the glory of the event." Had America relied on Washington's "cold and unmilitary conduct," Paine insisted, the commander-in-chief "would in all probability have lost America."

So stung was Washington by these diatribes that Jefferson claimed he had never known anyone so hypersensitive to criticism. For all his granite self-control, the president succumbed to private outrage. At one cabinet session, Secretary of War Henry Knox showed Washington a satirical cartoon in which the latter was being guillotined in the manner of the late Louis XVI. As Jefferson recalled Washington's titanic outburst, "The President was much inflamed; got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself," and only regained control of his emotions with difficulty. A few years later, in a strongly worded rebuke to Jefferson, Washington reflected on the vicious partisanship that had seized the country, saying that he previously had "no conception that parties" could go to such lengths. He hotly complained of being slandered in "indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pick-pocket." To Washington's credit, he tolerated the press attacks and never resorted to censorship or reprisals.

As it turned out, the rabid partisanship exhibited by Hamilton and Jefferson previewed America's future far more accurately than Washington's noble but failed dream of nonpartisan civility. In the end, Washington seems to have realized as much. By his second term, having fathomed the full extent of Jefferson's disloyalty, he insisted upon appointing cabinet members who stood in basic sympathy with his policies. After he left office, he opted to join in the partisan frenzy, at least in his private correspondence. He no longer shrank from identifying with Federalists or scorning Republicans, nor did he feel obliged to muzzle his blazing opinions. To nephew Bushrod Washington, he warned against "any relaxation on the part of the Federalists. We are sure there will be none on that of the Republicans, as they have very erroneously called themselves." He even urged Bushrod and John Marshall to run as Federalists for congressional seats in Virginia.

Only a generation after Washington's death in 1799, during the age of Andrew Jackson, presidents were to emerge as unabashed chieftains of their political parties, showing no qualms about rallying their followers. The subsequent partisan rancor has reverberated right down to the present day—with no relief in sight.

The Neighbor is still the champ of storm coverage....

All day Friday, WCCO-AM meteorologist, Mike Lynch, said we were going to be in for a rough night of weather. He also said Saturday would be no picnic either.

He was right on the nose. Even in predicting Saturday's storms would have more of an impact on the southern metro.

Mike put in the extra time in covering the storms as they rolled in. Even on Saturday, he stayed on the air with Esme Murphy until midnight.

WCCO has always been the leader in storm coverage, but as budgets are cut back in the radio industry, it's nice to see the station had our backs during these storms.

Just thought I'd take the time to thank Mike Lynch for his dedication. Great job.

For X-Rated, a Domain of Their Own

From: The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — What if the Web held a sex party and no one showed up?

That’s what could happen now that the agency governing the Internet address system all but approved the creation of a new red-light district on the Web. The problem is that some of the biggest names in online pornography prefer not to be in that neighborhood.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on Friday agreed to move forward on a long-standing proposal from a Florida company to create a specialized dot-xxx suffix for adult entertainment Web sites. But the plan upset much of the adult entertainment industry. It joined hands with religious groups in lobbying against it, arguing that the new domains would lead to regulation and marginalization.

The alliance “made for strange bedfellows, for sure,” said Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association representing more than 1,000 adult entertainment businesses. The company sponsoring the dot-xxx domain, the ICM Registry, said it had a vision of a red-light district in cyberspace that was a clean, well-lighted place, free of spam, viruses and credit card thieves. Content would be clearly labeled as adult and the whole neighborhood would be easy to block. Anyone offended by pornography could simply stay out.

“It is good for everybody,” said Stuart Lawley, the chairman and chief executive of ICM. “It is a win for the consumer of adult content. They will know that the dot-xxx sites will operate by certain standards.”

That did not satisfy religious groups that opposed the dot-xxx domains, fearing they would make pornography even more prevalent online. And Ms. Duke said that “there is no support from our community” for the plan.

Her organization’s members, which include big industry names like Hustler and Adam & Eve, were concerned that the board overseeing the dot-xxx domain could engage in censorship and that the entire industry could come under increased regulation. “If the board doesn’t like what a producer creates, there is the possibility that they could censor it,” Ms. Duke said. “This will ghettoize our industry and make us a target of regulation.”

Ms. Duke said most of her members planned to continue operating out of their dot-com domains.

But Mr. Lawley is not worried. Online sex is big business, and he expects his company will benefit. Each domain registration will cost $60 a year, with $10 going to a nonprofit organization promoting “responsible business practices” for the industry.

Mr. Lawley said more than 100,000 domains had preregistered. He said he expected that when the dot-xxx domains opened for business, nine to 12 months from now, some 500,000 domains would register, or roughly 10 percent of the five million to six million adult online sites.

But Ms. Duke said many of those were likely to be “defensive” registrations, from businesses that wanted to prevent their names from being hijacked. Mr. Lawley said businesses could ensure that their names were not misused in the dot-xxx world by paying a one-time fee, to be set from $50 to $250.

In giving ICM’s proposal the green light in a meeting in Brussels, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which governs Internet addresses, reversed a 2007 vote to reject the dot-xxx domains, saying the decision was purely based on technical grounds. Peter Dengate Thrush, the agency’s chairman, said it had no interest or stake in the content of Web sites.

“The applicants believe that this will allow people to filter pornography more effectively,” he said. “If they do that and it works, that’s great for them. But that’s not part of our issue.”

The agency now has to negotiate a final contract with ICM. Ms. Duke’s organization plans to continue its fight against the dot-xxx domains.

Most embarrassing show to date...

What should have been a good show with fairly relevant topics turned out to be a complete disaster. So much so, that I'm not even going to draw a link to it.

I want to thank Chris Murphy for taking the time to come on and apologise to him for swaying so off topic.

Changes have been made and more are coming.

Thanks...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ed Schultz: Hope fades for the unemployed

Tonight, when you go to bed, say a little prayer and thank God if you live in Minnesota, as our unemployment numbers are much better than the national average.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Feds: Blaine man threatened Vice President Biden, e-mailed child porn

If you're going to be stupid enough to keep and distribute kiddie porn, you probably shouldn't be doing things that would make the feds want to check on your on line habits. Dumb ass...

*****

From Pioneer Press

A Blaine man is accused of hacking into his neighbor's computer and posing as the neighbor to send child pornography as well as a terroristic threat to the vice president of the United States.

In an indictment handed up today, Barry Vincent Ardolf, 45, of Blaine, faces one count each of unauthorized access to a protected computer, possession of child pornography, transmission of child pornography and threats to the president and successors to the presidency and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment offers this account:
In February 2009, Ardolf hacked into his neighbor's wireless Internet connection and accessed Yahoo e-mail and MySpace accounts he had created in that person's name. Posing as the neighbor,

Ardolf used those accounts to send messages and sexually explicit photos of children to the neighbor's coworkers. He also posted pictures of child pornography on the MySpace page.

In March 2009, Ardolf created a Gmail account — in the name of an actual Wayzata resident — and sent an e-mail to the neighbor's boss. That e-mail accused the neighbor of making unwanted sexual advances.

In May 2009, Ardolf used another Yahoo account to send an e-mail in the name of the neighbor and his wife. The e-mail, sent to the vice president of the United States, the governor and a senator from Minnesota, read in part:
"This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously. I hate the way you people are spending money you don't have...I'm
assigning myself to be judge, jury and executioner...I'll kill you all one at a time...The first one of you will be dead by June 1."

Earlier this month, Ardolf was charged with aggravated identity theft and with threatening the vice president and other elected officials. Prosecutors alleged that Ardolf hacked into the neighbor couple's computer and sent threats, child pornography and other messages after they reported him to police for inappropriately touching one of their children.

Ardolf was planning to accept a plea offer in the case but rejected it at the last minute because it contained a recommendation that he be sentenced to at least two years in prison.

If convicted, Ardolf faces 20 years on the charge of transmitting child pornography, 10 years on the charge of possessing child pornography, five years each on the charges of unauthorized computer access and threatening the vice president. He also faces a mandatory two-year sentence on each count of aggravated identity theft.

David Hanners contributed to this report.

Council member wants English only for official business in Lino Lakes

By Joe Kimbal, MnPost.com

A Lino Lakes City Council member has proposed an English-only policy in the city. I checked to be sure that it's Lino Lakes, Minn., the Anoka County exurb of 20,000. Yep. There is no Lino Lakes, Ariz.

The ordinance — declaring English the city's official language and requiring that city resources be offered only in English — is a way for Lino Lakes to save money during a time of budget crunches, says Council Member Dave Roeser. He wants English declared the city's official language and says that providing services in English only will save money, notes the Pioneer Press.

But apparently the city doesn't spend anything on translating documents to other languages. Critics think it's an anti-immigration measure.

Roeser doesn't want to pay for interpreters, either.
"We wouldn't pay for somebody's attorney. Why pay for their interpreter?" he told the Star Tribune.

"English is fair to everybody. That's what our laws are written in. Sure, you can make exceptions, translate something into Spanish. But, to be fair, where do you stop? This is about cost avoidance. That's it."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One from the old neighborhood passes away...

Funny how some things you can remember from childhood like the happened just yesterday. Especially when you sometimes can't remember what actually happened yesterday.

I have mentioned, several times on this blog, my special relationship with the Fuentes family, from the West Side of St. Paul. That neighborhood also was home to about a dozen more kids that all hung out together.

The house across Kansas Avenue from the Fuentes residence was home to a good sized family in it's own right. Juan and Marie Noyola were parents to 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. All, with the possible exception of Johnny, the oldest, would join us for pick up baseball and football games.

One of the guys we were always a little afraid to let play with us was Robert. Robert Noyola was a little older and a lot bigger than most of the kids that hung out on that block. He was never a bully, even though he was big enough to be.

As Robert got old enough to drive, we didn't see as much of him. (not like that's not ordinary) He was always good about piling us kids in the truck to go to ball games and other places.

Robert Noyola passed from this world, last Sunday. He was 51 years old. To my recollection, he is the first one in our little group to pass away.

Funny thing, however, my fondest memory of Robert was from just about 5 years ago. I had got together with a couple of the Fuentes boys for a couple of beers, when we decided go over to a house party thrown by Robert's sister, Liz. It had been over 25 years since I'd last seen Robert, but he remembered me as if it was only a week. That night, we had a few laughs and a few more beers and promised that we'd stay in touch. Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw Robert Noyola.

I am going to make an effort to come to the visitation, this Friday morning. I will have to take a little time of work, but I feel I need to be there, if only for a few moments. As us kids from that West Side neighborhood start getting into our 40s and 50s, with prostate issues and receding hairlines, Robert's death kinda puts us in touch with our own mortality.

Rest in peace, big fella...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gay pride is fine, but could we chill a bit?

Let me start this off by saying that I believe gay and lesbian couples should have all the rights afforded to them that heterosexual couples have. They should be able to marry, adopt children or at the very least, be counted as beneficiaries in such matters as insurance or social security claims.

This weekend the country will go through an annual ritual known as Gay Pride. Parades and festivals galore. All over town, rainbow flags will adorn businesses that serve the gay, lesbian and transgendered community. The scene will be the same, here in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis has one of the country's largest Gay Pride parades.

While I have to give the GLBT community kudos on how to throw a party, I am a little concerned about what it's become. An old wise man once said, never throw gasoline on a fire. There are narrow minded people in this country that think homosexuals should be burned at the stake. Fact is, I don't need to know your sexual preference any more than you need to know mine.

I'm not suggesting that gays and lesbians "stay in the closet." But do they really have to have such an "in your face" attitude about their sexuality? I know of at least a few gay couples who are very private about their lifestyle. Let's face it, if a bunch of straight folks all got together for a "straight pride" rally, don't you think more than a few gay folks would be just a little upset?

All I'm saying is while it's "OK to be gay," turn the flame down a little and give those with not such an open mind a little time to adjust.

Monday, June 21, 2010

An invite to follow me on Twitter

Many times, I don't have time to write a complete blog posting, especially when I just have a random thought. It's for this reason that I invite you to follow me on Twitter. Simply follow this link.

I look forward to seeing you...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another great show in the books...

Click here to listen to the show archive.

Today, Dan Lundin and I talked politics. We talked about the three DFL candidates for governor of the state of Minnesota. Also, we discussed how hard it may be for Tarryl Clark to unseat Michelle Bachmann in the CD 6 race. We also talked about Governor Tim Pawlenty and what it would take to make him a more palatable choice for president.

As always, we get a little off topic, every now and then. But it's all in good fun.

We hope you tune in.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Entenza plan for education...



Click here to read the plan or go to Entenza.com.

Drug testing for welfare recipients good idea, if done properly...

U.S. Senator, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is calling for a federal law requiring all welfare and unemployment recipients to undergo mandatory drug testing, in order to receive benefits. It may surprise you to know that I don't think this is such a bad idea.

OK... My inbox is still smoking from my last posting, so again, I ask you to chill out a minute.

First, I don't think a positive testing should mean an immediate denial or termination of benefits. However, those who do test positively should be made to undergo treatment in order to receive these benefits. Now, if these individuals continue to produce dirty samples, not only would I cut off their benefits, but I would also be in favor of jail time. We are after all talking about the use of illegal drugs here.

I've always said that while every effort should be made to help those who are in need, I have no tolerance for those who abuse the system, by using taxpayer generosity to purchase drugs.

Remember that individual states do have the right to enact these requirements. President Clinton signed this into law, as part of the welfare reform act of 1996. Don't be surprised if some states don't proceed in this direction. I don't, however, think there will be a big push for this in Minnesota.

But would it be so bad if there was?

Senior drivers at the center of 2 deadly accidents in the region

A story in today's Star Tribune reports that a 92-year-old woman who crossed the center line on a North Dakota highway hit two motorcycles, causing the death of a 30-year-old woman. As a result, the elderly driver will only receive a $20 ticket for her actions.

Also, in St. Paul, an elderly driver ran a stop sign, at the corner of Hamline and Pierce Butler Route, killing the driver of the SUV she collided with. The lady running the sign was 71.

I understand that senior citizens want to stay independent. But at what point does this independence put other motorists at risk?

As someone who drives 10 to 12 hours a day, I think that it's only right that people over the age of 70 be made to take test on a yearly basis, to grade their reaction skills, if they wish to continue to operate a motor vehicle. It's for their own safety and the safety of the general public.

Ironically, I had a near miss, just today, with a senior driver in the vicinity of North Memorial Hospital. Poor old guy ran right through a stop sign. All my years of experience have prepared me for situations like that. But that might have been a disaster for a less experienced driver.

Before you send me all that nasty e-mail, telling me that I'm just picking on old folks and I'll be that old some day, keep this in mind; Driving these days is much more dangerous that when our grandparents first began driving. I'm sure if we could eliminate all the distractions, it would be a lot safer for everyone. That's just not the case. For everybody's safety, each motorist needs to be able to react instantly to hazards that can come up with out much notice.

Without the presence of laws restricting elderly drivers I encourage family members to get involved. If there is even a shadow of a doubt to whether a senior member of your family can safely handle motor vehicle, by God for everbody's sake, get the keys.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dayton a little premature in bashing AFL-CIO's premature endorsement....

DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton cried foul today when the Minnesota AFL-CIO sent out a news release announcing its endorsement of Margaret Anderson Kelliher for governor.

Problem is, the endorsement apparently was a mistake.

About an hour after Dayton lambasted the process as being "unfair," the labor union umbrella group announced that they were opting out of endorsing any candidate at this time.

Both Kelliher and Dayton have been endorsed by AFL-CIO affiliated unions, but apparently, the group needs a 65% majority in order to endorse any one candidate.

I hope all of the DFL candidates understand that Tom Emmer and the rest of Minnesota Republicans are licking their chops over gaffes like this. I would hope in the future that campaigns obtain all the facts before making public statements like that.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's all about the decisions you make....

I've spent a lot of time on this blog over the last few weeks talking about what I think is wrong in the world today. Now, I'm going to take the time to talk about what I think is wrong with me. This has nothing to do with politics, so refer to the previous post, if that is what you are looking for.

Lori and I are in the middle of a argument over what she thinks is just about a stupid movie. We went to go see Marmaduke today. Not much substance there, but I thought it was mildly entertaining. But like I said, this has nothing to do about the movie.

As most of you know, Lori is not my first wife. For those who don't know me that well, I will spare you the shock value of telling you how many times I have been married.

I'm not one for excuses, but I had a miserable childhood. I lost both parents by the time I was 11. The 2 year period of time between which my father died and when my mother drank herself to death was something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Until you've been beaten with a baseball bat for coming home 5 minutes late, by a mother that's in a drunken rage, I really don't want to hear your drivel about about not having a nurturing family life.

The time after she died was no picnic either. Even though I had 6 uncles and aunts, at the time, I was given a "choice" to live with a neighbor lady which none of the family knew.I took the option solely because I did not want to uproot my life again. But I was 11, for Christ's sake. What kid that age gets to make that type of decision? I was nothing more than a house boy to a woman that had been injured in a car accident a couple of years previously. I did help her out quite a bit after she got home from the hospital. But now all those things I did for her were now expected, now that I was living with her. To say the least, I had no childhood to speak of.

The lady was a bit of a barfly herself. Not quite as bad as my mother, but she was known to down a few herself. Many times, she'd bring guys home with her from the bar. When she opted not to share her bed with them, they'd wind up in bed with me. On one occasion, the asshole she brought home decided to start fondling me. When I told her about it the next morning, she thought I made the whole thing up.

This brings me to the most painful part of this story. From age 6 on I had been sexually abused on several occasions. Mostly by friends of my parents, but in my teen life, my own sexual curiosity got me abused by other adults, some were complete strangers.

I finally came to live with one of my uncles when I was 15 years old. By then, it was too late. I was looking for love and or sex any way I could find it. Many times, I would hang out with people older than me that drank and did drugs to fulfill this need. Wasn't long before I was doing the same.

One thing I had going for me is that I didn't mind working. So much so, that I dropped out of high school half way through 11th grade to take a full time job. But all that money went for was booze and drugs.

My uncle had raised two pretty good boys. But he was in no way ready to deal with the issues that I had brought with me. He had got to the point that he had only one rule, "don't get yourself thrown in jail, cause I won't bail you out." Somehow, I managed to stay on the right side of the law, if just barely.

I wound up leaving my uncle's place when I was 17. After a brief stay in my birthplace of Kansas City, I came back to Minnesota. I was able to stay with an old high school girlfriend and her mother, at the time, neither of them were totally aware of all the demons I had been suppressing.

I spent the next 4 years fathering 4 kids with two different wives. I have a strong belief that there may be another child beside them, that the mother's family did their best to hide from me. Who could blame them? For various reasons I wound up surrendering my parental rights to the four kids I knew about.

I have had many good people in my life that have loved me. But because of my fucked up childhood, I don't really think I know how to love anybody. My sometime obsession with sex has caused me to be unable to have a normal healthy sexual relationship with my partner at the time. It should be noted that I have never been a predator or sexual deviant of any sort. Possibly because my overly abusive mother did instill a sense of consequence in me, that is with me to this day. And not to worry, folks. My blood pressure and diabetes, while controlled by medication, has made most any sexual function impossible, these days.

So now that I've spilled my guts out, you may ask what the point was. A couple of hours ago, I posted on my Facebook page that I was tired of making wrong decisions. The fact is, despite all the childhood problems I've had, most of the problems I've had have come from decisions I've made from a heart that felt that it was never given enough love instead of with my head.

These decisions haunt me to this day. Unfortunately, they hurt other people besides myself. ex-wives, children, friends and family alike. I always try to do the right thing, but many of these decisions are made without much careful deliberation.

So where do I go from here? I'm not really sure. I often get the feeling that I have managed to destroy any compassion Lori may still have in me. Or was it all just another mistake? It seems there couldn't be people with less in common. Yet, I don't remember ever loving anyone as much as I do her. (sorry to all that have came before her)

So I've come to yet another crossroads in my life. I have beaten the demon of codependency, so there is no other vine to swing to. But I just don't know if I can continue to live in a situation where I know that decisions I've made have caused the person that I love's feelings to sour on me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Video webcast?

I spent 15 minutes talking to Baird Helgeson about Matt Entenza, for his story that was on the front page of today's Star-Tribune. Did I miss something? I don't remember saying anything about our show being on video, God forbid.

But this wasn't about me or our little corner of the blogosphere. (a quote he did get right) This was about Matt Entenza and his fledgling campaign to be governor of Minnesota.

For the most part, I think Baird's observations were right on the money. Matt is struggling with name recognition, in a race that features a former United States senator and the speaker of the the state's House of Representatives. I don't have the answer on how to get past that. That's why he has a campaign staff.

I truly like Matt. If he weren't running for governor, I'd still like him. Like I said in one of my first postings, he does not come off as a millionare or a polititian, for that matter.

I really don't have much to offer the campaign, other than a few nice words here and my vote in August. I work too many hours to to get involved in active campaigning. And this is the slow season in my line of work, so I'll have to dedicate even more time to the taxi. Thank God for my iphone.

Look, I've heard all the garbage that has been spewed about Matt. Again I wasn't here to see any of that first hand. I'm sure as hell not going to believe a few wingnuts that are hell bent on derailing his campaign. Like I always do, come time to vote, I will go with my gut instict on who I think will do the best job of leading this state into the future.

That's all any of us should do...

Colorado rafting guide arrested after girl's rescue

Colorado rafting guide arrested after girl's rescue
By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post
Posted: 06/12/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Clear Creek sheriff's deputies arrested a rafting guide for swimming
to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear
Creek.


Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year- old guide with Arkansas Valley
Adventures rafting company, was charged after the Thursday incident
with "obstructing government operations," Clear Creek Sheriff Don
Krueger said.


"He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to
the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation," said Krueger, noting
that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against
another guide at the scene Thursday on Clear Creek just downstream
from Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6.


Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did
the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately
and not waiting for the county's volunteer search-and-rescue team to
assemble ropes, rafts and personnel.


"When you have someone in sight who has taken a long swim, you need to
make contact immediately," said Bradford, a 15-year rafting guide and
ski patroller from Summit County.


"This is just silly. Ryan Snod grass acted entirely appropriately.
These guys came to the scene late, and there was a rescue in progress.
They came in and took over an existing rescue. To leave a patient on
the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up
a rescue system you read about in a book is simply not good policy."


Snodgrass stayed with the girl until the other rescuers could use a
line and raft to bring her and him out of the river. He was then
arrested.


Snodgrass' raft flipped about noon Thursday in the runoff swelling
Clear Creek, and the girl, Victoria Hernandez, swam from the raft.
Krueger said the girl was missing for 30 to 45 minutes while Snod
grass and other guides searched for her. He said she swam a half-mile
from the spot where the raft capsized.


Because it had been so long, Krueger said, it was no longer the
rafting company's rescue.


"They should involve themselves up to a point. They lost contact,"
Krueger said. "Whether they want to say they were trying to rescue
their customer, when they had lost visual contact and had no idea
where their customer has been for 30 to 45 minutes, then it becomes
our issue."


Search-and-rescue outfits tend to operate from a conservative
standpoint, working from the least risk — throwing a rope — to the
highest risk — actually swimming — said Mike Mather, a 20-year
swiftwater training instructor.


"It's all about evaluating your risk. This guide probably has much
more whitewater savvy than your traditional rescue squad, and he
probably did not consider that swim very aggressive," Mather said.


"Rescuers come onto a scene and they have one person stuck, and they
don't necessarily want to put another person in the water, especially
if they don't know that person. They are in a tough spot. They don't
have the whitewater savvy, but they do have rescue standards and
protocols to follow."


Either way, the story ends well. The teenage girl and another juvenile
who fell from the raft were treated for bumps and bruises and
released.


Several rafting company owners said Friday they had never heard of a
rafting guide getting arrested for participating in a rescue.


"I've never had an issue like that, and I'm not sure anybody really
has," said John Rice, owner of Clear Creek Rafting.


Bradford said he would expect his guides to do the same thing again.
His guides are professionals, he said, trained and certified in
swiftwater rescue. Snod grass has been guiding for 10 years, he said.


"To jump into water and navigate a river in a swiftwater rescue is
common. You get into the river and swim. You have to do it," Bradford
said. "The fact these guys don't understand that is disturbing.


"Making contact immediately with your victim is essential. It's not
about who is in charge. It's about the safety of a 13-year-old girl.
You are going to do everything in your power to ensure the safety of
your guest, and if that means in Idaho Springs you get arrested, well,
I guess we'll just get arrested."

From DenverPost.com

Suspect's mom: Son 'stupid kid,' not a terrorist

I'm posting this as a follow-up to one of the segments that ran on our blogcast from June 12th. The segment addressed the concern of U.S. citizens returning from Somalia to possibly commit acts of terrorism, here in Minnesota.

New York (CNN) -- The mother of one of the two New Jersey men arrested last week at a New York airport allegedly on their way to fight with an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Somalia says the two men are guilty of stupidity -- but not of the sinister plan described by authorities.

"Anything makes him angry. But he's not a terrorist; he's a stupid kid," Nadia Alessa said of her U.S.-born son, Mahmood.

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, New Jersey, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park, New Jersey, are charged with one count each of conspiracy to kill, maim and murder persons outside of the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The men, who were taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 5, intended to take separate flights to Egypt on their way to Somalia "to join designated foreign terrorist organization Al-Shabaab and wage violent jihad," according to federal prosecutors.

The criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark alleges that in 2007, Alessa and Almonte traveled together to Jordan, where they intended to enter Iraq to commit violence against U.S. troops there.

Nadia Alessa told CNN that her son went to 16 or 17 psychiatrists for what she called "anger management issues" that surfaced when he was a boy. He lived at his parents well-kept home, where his angry outbursts were common.

However, she said, he wasn't particularly religious. "He slept late. If he was devout, he would make his prayers on time. He didn't," she said.

She helped him pack for his trip to Egypt, though she said she resisted the idea from the start. Nadia Alessa said she was reassured by a man named "Bassim," who had befriended her son and Almonte.

"He said we're gonna study Arabic. I said but here there are many schools. But he say in Egypt, they're better," she recalled being told by the man when she expressed concerns about Alessa moving to Egypt.

"Don't worry, I take care of them," she said Bassim told her days before her son and Almonte were arrested boarding a flight to Egypt. She said she believes the man was an undercover federal agent who recorded her son making incendiary comments against the United States and continued to build the case against him and Almonte.

"Since I saw him, I warned my son and Carlos," Nadia Alessa said. "But my son say 'Always you say about my friends they are undercover.' "

The Alessa family invited CNN on Saturday also talk to a woman who said she was set to marry Mahmood Alessa upon his arrival in Egypt. Nadia Alessa said she met her son's girlfriend the night before.

The 19-year-old woman, who said her name is Siham, sat at the family's home, cloaked in a niqab, a veil that covers the entire body and face with only a sheer cloth revealing the eyes. She said she met Mahmood Alessa in an online chat room.

Siham showed CNN her passport stamped June 9, 2010, indicating her arrival at Kennedy airport from Paris, France. She also produced her airline itinerary, which shows that her trip started in Cairo -- where, she says, she was waiting for Alessa.

"We were supposed to get married and study awhile in Egypt. That was the plan," Siham told CNN.

She said she moved from Sweden, where she was born to Egyptian parents, to Cairo at Alessa's behest a few months ago.

When he didn't arrive in Cairo on June 6, she was shocked to learn from a friend in New York that her soon-to-be fiance had been arrested.

"She told me that Mohamed got arrested for terrorism and that they were saying he was going to Somalia," Siham said in disbelief. "So I didn't know what to do; words can't explain what I felt. I was in shock and I couldn't stop crying."

She said she boarded a flight and arrived in New York a day before Alessa's arraignment Thursday. It was then that she saw him for the first time, through a veil in a federal courtroom.

"I didn't have any ticket booked or anything. I just went to the airport and I booked a ticket from there, and I left," Siham said.

CNN recently learned that Alessa and Almonte were followers of an extreme Islamist group based in New York. CNN obtained an image of the two suspects attending a protest in New York organized by the Islamic Thinkers Society on June 1. They appear to have been taking part in a demonstration against Israel.

One is holding a banner, the other an Islamic Thinkers Society poster that includes the slogan, "Exterminate the Zionist Roaches." The society's video of the event, posted on its YouTube channel, has since been removed.

The rally took place a week before the two men made their way to Kennedy airport and were arrested.

"My soul cannot rest till I shed blood. I wanna like be the world's [best] known terrorist," Alessa is alleged to have told an undercover agent in the United States last year. Later he said, "We'll start doing killing here, if I can't do it over there."

Another image -- from late 2008 -- shows Almonte at a different rally, holding a poster that says "Death to all Juice" (sic). It's not clear whether that rally was organized by the Islamic Thinkers Society.

When asked about the rallies Alessa attended, Siham insisted his presence was a show of outrage -- not intent.

"But that doesn't make him a terrorist. That only shows how much he dislikes what the people are doing to the Muslims," she said. "That doesn't show he was going to Somalia and do anything."

From CNN.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Busy show in store for this Saturday...

Click here to listen to the archive.

In our second week with the 90 minute format we'll explore why Koua Fong Lee is still awaiting a decision on a retrial on his vehicular homicide conviction.

Also, with numerous reports of American citizens returning to Somolia to fight with the jihadists, is it only a matter of time before one of them returns to Minnesota to commit a terrorist act?

Did you know it was discriminatory to have a "ladies' night" at your favorite watering hole?

We'll also address the merit of the SuperValu lawsuit against the Midway Wal-Mart.

Sprinkle in a little nurses' strike, T-Paw on the Daily Show and World Cup talk and you'll have plenty to talk about at the water cooler on Monday.

The fun starts at 4pm, CDT.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So long to my special friends...

Some long time cab drivers will tell you that theirs is a thankless job. In my 29 plus years, I see it a little differently.

I've been fortunate enough to be trusted to transport special needs passengers, whether in a wheelchair accessible taxi or as in my most recent assignment, transporting a couple of special young men to their work readiness program, through their school.

This "school run" may hold the dearest part of my heart. Over the last 8 months, through all different types of weather conditions, without fail, I would take these two boys to well known medical technology firm. That all ended today with the ending of the school year.

These young men, who I can only assume were autistic, indeed were a joy to spend an hour of my day with. Today, one of the boys gave me a card, thanking me for taking them everyday. To that, I have to say, no, thank you. As they made each day just a little brighter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big box stores can't seem to play nice together...

Aren't we a little hypocritical here?

News is that local grocery giant SuperValu (aka Cub Foods) is suing Wal-Mart in an attempt to get the discount retail giant to stop selling certain grocery products. I believe the suit is specific to the Midway area of St. Paul, where both stores are a few hundred yards from one another.

That particular Wal-Mart has gone through some extensive remodeling and like most of the newer stores in the Metro area, offers a limited selection of grocery items, such as milk, bread, some processed and canned goods, as well as some frozen foods. I find it hard to believe the someone would go to one of these Wal-Mart stores to do their primary grocery shopping. I know Lori and I like the convenience of being able to pick up basic grocery items when we are shopping at Wal-Mart other household items.

I get the whole demonetization of Wal-Mart for being the demise of many mom and pop retailers over the last 20 years. But remember, it was grocery "warehouses" like Cub that put many neighborhood grocery stores out of business. I don't think they have a whole lot to carp about when it comes to taking a little piece of their business.

Also, Cub has no problem selling such items as basic tools and housewares, toys, magazines and greeting cards. Is Wal-Mart all up in arms about that? Not that I've heard of.

People like convenience and will patronize businesses that will offer the items they are looking for at a reasonable price. And if they can find every thing they need in one stop, all the better. I'm not saying that Wal-Mart doesn't deserve some criticism for some of it's business practices, but some folks only can afford to shop at stores like it or Cub, for that matter.

I really don't SuperValu is in any danger of going out of business just because Wal-Mart expands it's grocery section a little.

Let's all just take a deep breath here....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Don’t Get Mad, Mr. President. Get Even.

By FRANK RICH

It turns out there is something harder to find than a fix for BP’s leak: Barack Obama’s boiling point.

The frantic and fruitless nationwide search for the president’s temper is now our sole dependable comic relief from the tragedy in the gulf. Only The Onion could have imagined the White House briefing last week where a CBS News correspondent asked the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, if he had “really seen rage from the president” and to “describe it.” Gibbs came up with Obama’s “clenched jaw” and his order to “plug the damn hole.” (Thank God he hadn’t settled for “darn.”) This evidence did not persuade anyone, least of all Spike Lee, who could be found on CNN the next night begging the president, “One time, go off!”

Not going to happen. Obama will never unleash the anger of the antagonists in “Do the Right Thing” or match James Carville’s rebooted “ragin’ Cajun” shtick. That’s not who Obama is. If he tried to go off, he’d look ridiculous. But the debate over how to raise the president’s emotional thermostat is not an entirely innocuous distraction. It allows Obama to duck the more serious doubts about his leadership that have resurfaced along with BP’s oil.

Unlike his unflappable temperament, his lingering failings should and could be corrected. And they must be if his presidency is not just to rise above the 24/7 Spill-cam but to credibly seize the narrative that Americans have craved ever since he was elected during the most punishing economic downturn of our lifetime. We still want to believe that Obama is on our side, willing to fight those bad corporate actors who cut corners and gambled recklessly while regulators slept, Congress raked in contributions, and we got stuck with the wreckage and the bills. But his leadership style keeps sowing confusion about his loyalties, puncturing holes in the powerful tale he could tell.

His most conspicuous flaw is his unshakeable confidence in the collective management brilliance of the best and the brightest he selected for his White House team — “his abiding faith in the judgment of experts,” as Joshua Green of The Atlantic has put it. At his gulf-centric press conference 10 days ago, the president said he had “probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review.” This was meant to be reassuring but it was not. The plugging of an uncontrollable oil leak, like the pacification of an intractable Afghanistan, may be beyond the reach of marathon brainstorming by brainiacs, even if the energy secretary is a Nobel laureate. Obama has yet to find a sensible middle course between blind faith in his own Ivy League kind and his predecessor’s go-with-the-gut bravado.

By now, he also should have learned that the best and the brightest can get it wrong — and do. His economic advisers predicted that without the stimulus the unemployment rate might reach 9 percent — a projection that was quickly exceeded even with the stimulus and that has haunted the administration ever since. Other White House geniuses persuaded the president to make his fateful claim in early April that “oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills” — a particularly specious (indeed false) plank in the argument for his spectacularly ill-timed expansion of offshore oil drilling. The Times reported last week that at the administration meetings leading to this new drilling policy the subject of the vast dysfunction at the Minerals Management Service, the agency charged with regulating the drilling, never even came up.

Obama’s excessive trust in his own heady team is all too often matched by his inherent deference to the smartest guys in the boardroom in the private sector. His default assumption seems to be that his peers are always as well-intentioned as he is. The single biggest mistake he has made in managing the gulf disaster was his failure to challenge BP’s version of events from the start. The company consistently understated the spill’s severity, overestimated the progress of the repair operation and low-balled the environmental damage. Yet the White House’s designated point man in the crisis, Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, was still publicly reaffirming his trust in the BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, as recently as two weeks ago, more than a month after the rig exploded.

This is baffling, and then some, given BP’s atrocious record prior to this catastrophe. In the last three years, according to the Center for Public Integrity, BP accounted for “97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the refining industry by government safety inspectors” — including 760 citations for “egregious, willful” violations (compared with only eight at the two oil companies that tied for second place). Hayward’s predecessor at BP, ousted in a sex-and-blackmail scandal in 2007, had placed cost-cutting (and ever more obscene profits) over safety, culminating in the BP Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured 170 in 2005. Last October The Times uncovered documents revealing that BP had still failed to address hundreds of safety hazards at that refinery in the four years after the explosion, prompting the largest fine in the history of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (The fine, $87 million, was no doubt regarded as petty cash by a company whose profit reached nearly $17 billion last year.)

No high-powered White House meetings or risk analyses were needed to discern how treacherous it was to trust BP this time. An intern could have figured it out. But the credulous attitude toward BP is no anomaly for the administration. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs was praised by the president as a “savvy” businessman two months before the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Goldman. Well before then, there had been a flood of journalistic indicators that Goldman under Blankfein may have gamed the crash and the bailout.

It’s this misplaced trust in elites both outside the White House and within it that seems to prevent Obama from realizing the moment that history has handed to him. Americans are still seething at the bonus-grabbing titans of the bubble and at the public and private institutions that failed to police them. But rather than embrace a unifying vision that could ignite his presidency, Obama shies away from connecting the dots as forcefully and relentlessly as the facts and Americans’ anger demand.

BP’s recklessness is just the latest variation on a story we know by heart. The company’s heedless disregard of risk and lack of safeguards at Deepwater Horizon are all too reminiscent of the failures at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and A.I.G., where the richly rewarded top executives often didn’t even understand the toxic financial products that would pollute and nearly topple the nation’s economy. BP’s reliance on bought-off politicians and lax, industry-captured regulators at the M.M.S. mirrors Wall Street’s cozy relationship with its indulgent overseers at the S.E.C., Federal Reserve and New York Fed — not to mention Massey Energy’s dependence on somnolent supervision from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Given Toyota’s recent game of Russian roulette with Americans’ safety and Anthem Blue Cross’s unconscionable insurance-rate increases in California, Obama shouldn’t have any problem riveting the country’s attention to this sorry saga. He has the field to himself, thanks to a political opposition whose hottest new star, Rand Paul, and most beloved gulf-state governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, both leapt to BP’s defense right after the rig exploded. The Wall Street Journal editorial page perfectly set forth the conservative establishment’s party line on May 26: “There is zero evidence so far that this blowout resulted from lax regulation or shoddy practices.” Or as BP’s Hayward asked indignantly, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

If Obama is to have a truly transformative presidency, there could be no better catalyst than oil. Standard Oil jump-started Progressive Era trust-busting. Sinclair Oil’s kickback-induced leases of Wyoming’s Teapot Dome oilfields in the 1920s led to the first conviction and imprisonment of a presidential cabinet member (Harding’s interior secretary) for a crime committed while in the cabinet. The Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s and the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 sped the conservation movement and search for alternative fuels. The Enron scandal prompted accounting reforms and (short-lived) scrutiny of corporate Ponzi schemes.

This all adds up to a Teddy Roosevelt pivot-point for Obama, who shares many of that president’s moral and intellectual convictions. But Obama can’t embrace his inner T.R. as long as he’s too in thrall to the supposed wisdom of the nation’s meritocracy, too willing to settle for incremental pragmatism as a goal, and too inhibited by the fine points of Washington policy debates to embrace bold words and bold action. If he is to wield the big stick of reform against BP and the other powerful interests that have ripped us off, he will have to tell the big story with no holds barred.

That doesn’t require a temper tantrum. Nor does it require him to plug the damn hole, which he can’t do anyway. What he does have the power to fix is his presidency. Should he do so, and soon, he’ll still have a real chance to mend a broken country as well.

From The New York Times

Random thoughts for Monday...

Just a couple of observations today...

I just heard that Elton John was asked to preform at Rush Limbaugh's wedding. The eccentric rock icon made a cool million off the deal. Now there are those who would say that Elton might have compromised his principals a bit by agreeing to preform. But I say business is business. I don't agree with a whole lot that Limbaugh has to say. But if he got in my taxi, I'd take the man where he wanted to go.

To say that Twins' slugger, Justin Morneau has had a crappy last couple of days would be an understatement. The AL's leading hitter has been battling flu-like symptoms that have limited his duty during the team's series with Oakland. Come to find out that the first baseman just wrapped up an endorsement deal with McDonald's. Maybe part of the compensation was an unlimited supply of Big Macs. Hey, I love Mickey D's signature sandwich myself, so I know what can happen when you woof one too many of those down. Keep it up, Justin and you'll be doing more than just home run trots.

Adois...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Big States Dilute Tea-Party Strength

The raucous and costly Republican primary races in California and Nevada, like those in other states, attest to the tea-party movement's rising influence. But Tuesday's votes in the two states will be the first big test of the movement's promise and limits—and offer clues to its nationwide strength this fall.

In Nevada, voters are poised to deliver an upset in the race for the GOP Senate nomination, as tea-party favorite Sharron Angle leads her establishment-supported rival in recent polls.

The pride of the California tea party, Chuck DeVore, has failed to catch fire in the Republican Senate race to challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. On Tuesday, polls suggest he will finish well behind Carly Fiorina, a wealthy former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive endorsed by the GOP establishment.

The California and Nevada primaries illustrate a potential weakness of the tea-party movement: The bigger and more complex the stage, the more money and organization the movement needs. It has little of either now.

Tea-party activists, in their crusade to reduce government spending and taxation, have notched three victories so far this year. But all occurred in small-turnout, low-cost Senate races: a state-convention vote in Utah, a primary in Kentucky and a special election in Massachusetts, although other factors were also at play there. Nevada, with its population of 2.6 million, promises to provide the next victory in this category.

In California, with a population nearing 40 million, the movement has had trouble sustaining itself without adequate resources. That suggests some populist candidates may face challenges in the general election, which draws far more voters than primaries and requires more money for advertising.

"We are 14 months old as an organization," said Steve Brandau, coordinator of the Central Valley Tea Party in California. "We're not quite as effective as we want to be all over, but by the 2012 election we will be a force to contend with."

Political experts say the tea party could still sway the California vote. The movement has already forced establishment candidates such as Ms. Fiorina to stake out more-conservative positions. And a populist candidate could yet win Tuesday if voter turnout is low and tea-party activists vote in disproportionately high numbers.

In Nevada, Ms. Angle garnered just 5% support in April polls. But with the backing of groups such as the Tea Party Express and anti-tax Club for Growth, she grabbed the lead by late May. The GOP governor, Jim Gibbons, is also surging on tea-party support, despite a series of ethics scandals that prompted many in the Republican establishment to abandon him.

By contrast, California's Mr. DeVore seemed the perfect embodiment of the tea-party mantra. A state assemblyman known for his outspoken stance on limited government, he ran billboards depicting himself beside the U.S. Constitution and the motto "Support and Defend."

Yet Mr. DeVore has consistently trailed Ms. Fiorina in polls. In recent weeks, she even picked up the support of voters who consider themselves tea-party members. This comes despite her more-liberal stances on issues such climate change.

Mr. DeVore, in an interview Friday, wasn't ready to concede defeat. But he said the race shows the realities facing the movement in a state like California. "The issue is there are so many more of them in California," he said of tea-party members, "and there is no central leadership like there would be in a smaller state. But it's the nature of California, where one-eighth of the country lives and [which] is very diverse."

Analysts credit Ms. Fiorina's edge to her spending power. As of May 19, she had spent $6.7 million in her largely self-funded campaign, versus $2.1 million by Mr. DeVore and $1.7 million by Tom Campbell, an ex-congressman who is a social moderate.

But the state's diversity has also been a factor, as has the movement's fractiousness.

One DeVore-turned-Fiorina supporter is Mr. Brandau, of the Central Valley Tea Party. He switched allegiance because he felt she had a better chance of beating Ms. Boxer in the general election. One fellow tea-party member called him a sellout for doing so, but Mr. Brandau responded that Ms. Fiorina shares enough of his conservative ideals for him to support her.

"She hit it out of the park with us," Mr. Brandau says, referring to Ms. Fiorina's recent appearance at a Clovis, Calif., tea-party meeting.

Ms. Fiorina called the movement "incredibly important" after an appearance in Bakersfield Saturday. "You can't be winning without that support from the tea party," she said.

For California's tea-party activists, the nation's most-populous state presents unrivaled challenges. To reach 38 million residents, candidates there must have the money to buy television ads—they cost $3 million a week to run statewide—and enough organization to reach voters in all 58 counties.

"In some respects, the tea-party movement resembles the Christian right of the late 1980s and early 1990s—its clout was in inverse proportion to the size of the playing field," says John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College.

The movement has influenced Ms. Fiorina and former eBay Inc. CEO Meg Whitman, who is aiming for the governor's office, to stake out more-conservative positions. But both appear to have safe polling leads, with Ms. Whitman and Ms. Fiorina leading their closet opponents by 26 and 15 percentage points, respectively, in a Field Poll released during the weekend.

In the GOP gubernatorial primary, no tea-party contender has broken through. Analysts say even though Ms. Whitman and her opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, are relatively moderate, the money spent between them—$105 million so far, much on TV ads—makes it impossible for a tea-party candidate without serious cash or statewide organization to gain traction.

One statewide tea-party candidate is faring somewhat better. John Eastman, the former law school dean at Orange County's famously conservative Chapman University, has finished a close third in recent polls in the race for the Republican attorney general nomination. "If I win this thing Tuesday, you can attribute this to the tea-party people, absolutely," he said. "I think they would be the margin of victory."

From The Wall Street Journal

Maureen Reed drops out of CD 6 DFL race...

A Message From Maureen

This is tough news to share. With a heavy heart I am announcing the suspension of my campaign for Congress in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. During the past few days, I have come to the conclusion that a prolonged primary fight only assists Michele Bachmann. I feel that it is time for the DFL to unify behind one candidate in this race.

I am deeply and sincerely grateful to my family and to the thousands of people who have so selflessly invested their time, energy, and financial resources in this campaign. My time on the campaign trail has been a wonderful opportunity to listen and speak with people across the district from St. Cloud to Woodbury. They have openly shared their hopes, fears, and dreams for the future of their families and of America. They have helped me understand in new ways why this country is great and what their government should and should not do on their behalf.

I stand firmly in my belief that Michele Bachmann is not representing them well. She is more focused on her national priorities than on getting things done or doing what is right for her constituents. You can be certain that I will work hard to ensure that Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans are engaged and motivated to beat Michele Bachmann.

While I am not sure at this moment what the future holds, I am sure that I will never stop working to improve people's lives. And I look forward to talking with many of you in the weeks and months ahead. Until then, please know that my thanks are with you for your wonderful encouragement, guidance, and assistance in this past year.

From maureenreedforcongress.com

Mental Exams Ordered For Road Rage Driver

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - A Ramsey County judge has ordered a 21-year-old driver accused in a brutal road rage incident to undergo a series of mental exams.

John Babcook, 21, of Centerville is charged with first degree assault in a road rage incident in Maplewood on May 20th. According to the criminal complaint, Babcook cut off a woman while driving on Century Boulevard. Passengers in the woman’s car threw a tube of lip balm and the gear shift knob at Babcook’s car. That’s when the criminal complaint says he rear ended the driver and chased her into the parking lot of Hill Murray High School.

Witnesses say the 23 year old woman ran from her car and Babcook drove at her hitting the victim and throwing her over the top of his car. Babcook then fled the scene and later turned himself in to Washington County deputies.

When police arrived at the scene, the criminal complaint says they smelled alcohol on the victim’s breath and transported her to Regions Hospital where she was treated for multiple spine fractures and a cut to her head. Police have not identified the woman.

In Ramsey County Court, Babcook’s attorney revealed his client had a history of mental illness and asked judge Kathleen Gearin for two mental competency exams. The first is to determine Babcook’s mental state, the second is to discover whether he is competent to proceed with the charges against him.

Babcook remains in jail on $100,000 bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for June 24th.


From FOX9, Minneapolis

Gulf oil spill: Containment cap working well so far, says BP

Engineers trying to contain the oil spill from the stricken BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico have expressed optimism over the "containment cap" placed over the broken well, although it remains uncertain just how effective the method will be in capturing all of the oil.

Latest estimates released today suggest that about 10,000 barrels of oil a day are being caught in the device that was placed over the leaking pipe using remotely operated equipment. The oil is being collected in the funnel-like cap and then ushered up to the surface, where it is collected in a tanker called the Discoverer Enterprise sitting above the wellhead.

In a familiar pattern in the crisis, now in its 48th day, a notably more upbeat impression of the containment operation was given by BP than by the US government. BP's chief executive Tony Hayward told the BBC that, once the production flow was up to full speed, he would expect the proportion captured "to be the majority, probably the vast majority of the oil".

But Thad Allen, the US coastguard admiral who is co-ordinating the response of government agencies in the Gulf, gave a much more cautious assessment. He told Face the Nation on CBS: "I'm hoping we catch as much oil as we can, but I'm withholding any comment until production is at a full rate."

Behind Allen's caution lies fears that the procedure could come a cropper as it did when a containment cap was first attempted over the leaking well: this was the result of icy hydrates forming from the mixing of oil and water, a process that clogs up the cap. To prevent that happening again, methanol is being pumped into the cap in an attempt to stop the formation of the slush, while the pressure of the oil is slowly being increased through the use of vents on the side of the cap.

The final success of the process will not be known until all the vents are closed. The current rate of extraction of 10,000 barrels a day compares with the US government's worst-case scenario which estimates that up to 25,000 barrels a day of oil could be spewing from the well. Even if the cap proves to be largely successful in siphoning off the outpouring oil, Allen stressed that the damage of the oil that has already escaped would be long term. He said the spill was not monolithic, but was in fact hundreds of thousands of smaller spills spreading across a 200-mile radius.

"We are in the middle of a long-term campaign," he said. "We are fighting on three fronts: the sub-sea, the surface area above the well where the oil is coming up, and when it gets to shore we are fighting the battle there. "

Two relief wells are being drilled down into the well to "bottom kill" it – that is, to intercept the oil beneath the ocean bed and stop it rising up by blocking it with heavy mud. The first relief well has now reached 7,000ft beneath the sea bed and the other 3,000ft beneath it, but neither is expected to intercept the well board until August at the earliest.

The multiple efforts under way to drill the relief wells, spread dispersants below and on the sea surface and operate the containment cap is reflected in a hive of activity around the Deepwater Horizon site. According to Allen, up to 20 vessels are deployed at any one time in a one-mile radius of the wrecked well.

As oil continues to come ashore on beaches in Alabama and the Panhandle of Florida, clean-up operations are being stepped up. More than 400 fishing vessels are laying container booms and skimming oil from the surface off Alabama.

Unemployed people are being used in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida in the clean-up operation in a new scheme launched on Saturday. Some 400 jobless individuals were put to work over the weekend. The aim is to train up to 4,500 workers across the three states.

In his BBC interview, Hayward admitted that safety standards in deep-sea drilling were not up to scratch. The BP chief executive said: "It's clearly unacceptable that it's occurred, so what has to happen on the part of the industry and certainly BP is to move safety standards to a completely different level."

From The Guardian

(Norwalk, CT) Naked man 'yelling he was Jesus' caused accident

A naked man "yelling that he was Jesus" was the catalyst for a five-vehicle accident on I-95 Northbound near exit 16 early Saturday morning that injured three people, mangled a tandem tractor-trailer truck and slowed traffic to a crawl for nearly six hours, according to Darien Police Sgt. Jeremiah P. Marron Jr.

Marron said Darien Police responded to a call regarding a nude male causing a disturbance on I-95 north at exit 14. When police arrived, they saw the man hop into a silver car. With assistance from Norwalk and State Police, Darien officers were able to pull the car over near exit 16.

While police were responding at the scene, a distracted driver apparently stopped short near exit 16 to get a better view of the incident, causing the tractor-trailer to slam its brakes, jackknife and careen into four cars before flipping over, police said.

The tractor-trailer struck a tree and turned over on its side, according to Norwalk Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Lepus.

Norwalk and Westport firefighters responded to the accident at approximately 5:30 a.m. and began what would become a three-hour extrication process to get the driver safely out of the tractor-trailer truck.

"It was a tough extrication," Lepus said. "It took two crews to rescue him and a lot of time to get him out."

The driver's legs, arms, hand and head were pinned in the doomed vehicle, according to Lepus.

"He couldn't have done much worse but somehow he managed to stay in the void (of the truck's cab) and stay alive," he said.

Westport Assistant Fire Chief Robert Yost said the firefighters used "almost every tool" to gain access to the driver. For a while, the firefighters were only able to see the victim's elbow.

Paramedics were eventually able to crawl into the cab of the truck and begin treating the driver.

Truck wreckers assisted in lifting the wrecked tractor-trailer so that emergency crews could start treating the driver, according to Yost.

Lepus said the victim was speaking when emergency crews pulled him from the vehicle but the extent of the man's injuries is unknown. EMS trauma officials drove the victim to Norwalk Hospital.

Diesel fuel leaked from one of the tractor-trailer's ruptured fuel tanks and fire crews had to clean the fuel spill.

A road sign that was struck by the tractor-trailer fell on a Darien Police cruiser at the scene.

The accident completely closed I-95 North from exit 14 to exit 16. Two lanes on the stretch of highway were opened shortly after 11 a.m. but the right lane remained closed. All lanes of traffic were opened at noon.

The investigation is still ongoing.

From thehour.com

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Too much show for one hour...

So we expanded to 90 minutes... Click here to listen to the archive...

A variety of topics include... The blown call heard 'round the world, the Gaza blockade, school uniforms and cell phone use while driving.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Entenza defends LG choice...

Minnesota DFL gubernatorial candidate, Matt Entenza found himself, once again, having to defend his choice of Robyne Robinson for his running mate. Entenza had a piece in the op-ed section of today's Star-Tribune, which looked to rebuke a piece that had been written in the same paper, a week prior. The gist of of which was to criticize Entenza for choosing Robinson simply for her name recognition, to help a campaign that is lagging in the polls.

While I agree the choice was a shrewd political move on Entenza's part, I see nothing that would indicate that Ms. Robinson would be anything fine lieutenant governor.

First of all, Ms. Robinson did not become a long time news anchor on her good looks alone. During her tenure at channel 9, she was well known for having her finger on the pulse of the community. Including the inter-workings of the State Capitol. At the very least, Robyne Robinson is every bit as qualified to serve as lieutenant governor as Yvonne Prettner Solon or John Gunyou.

So why is the editorial staff being so hard on the Entenza choice. Do they really think there was some kind of unwritten ethical code broken because Robyne did not immediately resign from the TV station the minute she was asked to join the ticket. I can't help but think there is a little more to the story than that.

Either way, I think it is time for the media to start focusing on the issues that are facing this state and how these candidates intend on dealing with them.

It should be noted that I was interviewed by Star-Tribune writer, Baird Helgeson, about my recent blog posts pertaining to the Entenza campaign. I am hopeful that the piece he writes will be a departure from the editorial staff's rather pointless attack on Ms. Robinson.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baseball needs to move forward...

Hats off to umpire, Jim Joyce and Detroit Tigers' pitcher, Armando Galarraga, for the classy way they handled that blown call that cost the newly added Detroit hurler a perfect game.

That said, all this did was just shine the light on an glaring problem in Major League Baseball, the ever increasing number of blown calls that are, in some cases costing teams wins, or in Galarraga's case, a shot at baseball immortality.

Now I know there are some puritans out there that decry that all of this is what gives baseball its enduring charm. The human element, if you will. I get all of that. I can even handle the notion that some plays are so close in nature, that even the best of umpires will not always make the right call 100% of the time. I'd even go as far as saying that the Joyce incident, last night, would fall into that category.

But there are just of many of these bad calls where the umpire took the wrong angle or simply must have had his head somewhere other than the game. It's for these cases that something needs to change.

Personally, I don't care if it's done with replay, more umpire conferences or just more umpires. The stakes are too high these days to just let bad calls stand.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Convicted child abuser free until sentencing...

I don't often get real upset while watching the news, but tonight was the rare exception.

William T. Hurley was found guilty, in Hennepin County court, today of malicious punishment of a child. Hurley was charged in November after punching and whipping his girlfriend's 11-year-old son, and burning him with a hot iron as an act of discipline.

After the verdict, Hurley was videotaped (by KSTP-TV) leaving the courtroom with a smug, defiant look on his face.

The newscast reported that Hurley will not be sentenced until July.

Riddle me this... Why is this piece of shit back on the street? I got a six-pack that says this now convicted child abuser will be nowhere near Hennepin County come sentencing time.