Monday, November 29, 2010

Youth recreation centers slowly disappearing...

When you've had a childhood like mine, you tend to remember some of bright spots. When I was a kid, in the 70s, I remember having these wonderful rec centers to play at after school. The centers were well staffed and equipped, and provided a safe place for school age kids to blow off a little steam before heading home. Sadly, these rec centers are disappearing at an alarming rate. On St. Paul's East Side, it's reported that three of these centers are closing.

Of course this is all because city budgets have been drastically cut. A direct effect of the state's, specifically Governor Pawteny's, unwillingness to raise revenues that are needed to deal with the increasing costs of city funded programs.

The direct result is more teens and pre teens wandering the streets looking for something to do. On many instances, this leads to mischievous behavior, or even gang activity.

I understand that the problem is deeper than just more taxes. While the costs of providing city services, such as rec centers goes up with inflation, wages, thus net tax revenue, has not increased. Yet corporate profits have skyrocketed. These are the entities that seem to shelter themselves the most from federal and state taxes.

Meanwhile, communities struggle with the loss of services. Rec centers, which provide a vital role in keeping youth off these streets, are one of the first items to face the budgetary axe.

In short, the next time your half a million dollar home gets broken into, it may be by some misguided youth that just didn't have anything better to do, like shoot some hoops at his neighborhood rec center.

Oh well, you'll just write off your losses anyway...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What does being a progressive/liberal mean to you?

Again, I solicit your input as I want to know what brought you to this large umbrella known as the Progressive movement. Barring any major stories in the coming week, I will share some of these thoughts, as well as some of my own, on next Saturday's blogcast.

Please use the comments section below, to share your thoughts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More than about my silly little rants...

Look... I'm in no danger of wearing out any bandwidth with this site, but I do have a few loyal followers. I really want to use this platform to do some good. So if you have a cause you want to promote, shoot me an e-mail. I will shout it from the highest mountain. Ok... I'll post a link on this blog, good enough?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something to think about, this Thanksgiving...



















Thanks, The Christian Left

Shit... They found me!!!

It would figure it would be at a liquor store...

America's passenger rail service stuck in the stone age...

Whenever I'm in St. Paul around 7:00am, I check out the Amtrak station for potential fares. When I pulled in this morning, I noticed 4 buses loading train passengers headed for Chicago.

To me, this is a glaring point of what is wrong with America's passenger rail system. First off, if I bought a ticket to ride Amtrak, I would be livid about being herded on to a motor coach. If I wanted to take a bus, I could have gone Greyhound or MegaBus for a lot less money.

The problem as I see it is that Amtrak tries to run these cross country trains through the Continental Divide. More times than not, this becomes problematic any time a winter storm hits the Rockies.

In my opinion, the best way to operate would be to split the existing "Empire Builder" line, possibly at Cheyenne or Denver. As well, I would split the line that runs across the southern U.S. from Los Angeles to Orlando. This train is notorious for running late, because any little hiccup along the line has a ripple effect for the rest of the scheduled stops.

In my Utopian world, our nation's passenger rail system would resemble dual wheel spokes, with hubs in Chicago and Kansas City. Rail lines would then finger out in shorter spurs that would run no more than three to four hundred miles apart. This would make for more frequent and reliable service along these lines. It would also eliminate the need for a much bastardized idea of a high speed alternative for rail travel.

I think that rail has a very important role in America's transportation future. That said, it's not practical for most people to take a thousand mile train ride. Most rail trips are usually no more than a few hundred miles. The route between Chicago and the Twin Cities is often sold out, and could support as many as three trips each way, as opposed to the current one trip daily.

I summary, more trains + shorter routes = a more efficient passenger rail service.

Now if only Ray LaHood would get off his anti cell phone campaign long enough to look at a practical solution for rail travel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interview with Kevin Winge part of Saturday's show.

I just concluded an interview with Kevin Winge,executive director of Open Arms of Minnesota. Kevin is wrapping up a week in which he budgeted himself $27.65, about what an individual receives in Food Stamp benefits, for a week's worth of food, in order to draw attention to the limited nutritional value this allotment offers.

The interview will air on the blogcast, this Saturday, as part of a look at the limited help that is available to needy families.

From MPR News: Minn. man takes 'food stamp challenge'

I think more people should try to live off a food budget of $27.65 per week. Then they'd understand that feeding yourself on Food Stamps is no picnic.

Click here for the MPR story...

Your take on airport security...

Rarely do I solicit the readers of this blog specifically for their opinion, but after Saturday's blogcast, I wonder how people really feel about the increased security measures at our nation's airports.

So the question I have is what you would do differently? Should we relax airport security to pre-911 levels, and pray nothing else happens?

Use the comments form below to air your opinion.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An icy dose of reality for Minnesota drivers.

Of the near 30 years I've spent behind the wheel of a cab, 20 of those years have been right here in Minnesota. Of course, that means putting up with Minnesota winters.

This will be my third season of winter driving since moving back up here in 2008. In that time I've dealt with a few good dumpings of snow, but nothing that slowed me down like last night's ice storm.

Was it really a storm? Not really... I think we only got .02 of an inch of precipitation. But when that precip comes out of the sky as ice, all bets are off.

It took me damn near sliding through the light rail crossing on 11th Avenue to convince me that my night was over, damn the lost revenue. But when weather gets like this, I stay off the freeway, because good old boy, Joe Skoalring, with his 4x4 pickup, will surely come blazing by everyone else, until he realizes his monster truck won't stop, and at best case scenario, he winds up in a ditch.

Not me folks... I took Marshall-East River Road all the way up to Coon Rapids Boulevard, to get myself into Anoka. Never once did I top 25mph. Even at that speed, stopping was a challenge.

I stayed up until after 4am, to make sure Lori got home from work ok. Poor girl's nerves were rattled, to say the least.

What amazes me, is the number of people up here that don't understand if there is ice forming on your car, chances are pretty good it's forming on the roads. In other words, slow your ass down.

This is a lesson I hope we don't have to learn again, any time soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Alan Colmes Liberaland: TSA Forces Flight Attendant To Remove Prosthetic Breast During Patdown

In my opinion, this is going too far...

Click here to read the story...

A new network for Progressive talkers in Minnesota

For the time being, I have abandoned the idea of getting on AM 950 here in the Twin Cities. Not that I don't believe in their cause, it's just the sad realization that the station is in business to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that, it's just I don't have the money to put up to buy airtime from the station, nor the time it takes to enlist sponsors.

Then it dawned on me, I can't be the only talker that faces this issue. I believe that there are many individuals in this state, that have the same views I do, and would like to get their message out to the masses. As much as I would love to have one progressive love fest on The Shannon Files, I know this is not practical.

So my idea is to start a network of Progressive blogcasters and podcasters. Thus the name, Minnesota Progressive Talkers Network. Members of this network would post links to upcoming live shows and/or archived podcasts.

For more information, please go to the network's homepage.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot t(r)opics, this Saturday

While sipping a Mahi-Thai in Hawaii at 8am, Roger will join me to discuss the plagiarism in the Bush memoirs, as well as his admission that he made the decision to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Also, we discuss whether the new TSA security measures have gone too far. We'll find out the answer to the pressing question, if TSA officers felt Roger's junk before he was able to get on board the plane.

Click here to listen to the archive.

They're reading this blog on Capitol Hill...

Don't think they're not paying attention out there...

I'm really not hating on Big Eddie...

A couple of days ago, I posted something on Cinch that might have sounded a little harsh on Ed Schultz. I want to clarify that I appreciate the opportunity to meet Ed, if for only less than a couple of minutes.

I have to remind myself that I'm not easily star struck. I've had dozens of celebs and ball players in the back seat of my cab over the years. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. So when a busy guy like Ed Schultz takes a minute out of his busy schedule to pose for a picture, I should accept it for what it is worth.

I am still a loyal listener of the Ed Schultz show. I still think he is the only one on the airwaves that is really telling it like it is, when it comes to the struggles of the working poor. It was just seeing him with that SUV car service waiting on him in the parking lot somehow smacked of elitism. I don't care if MSNBC paid for it. Take a friggin cab and get a receipt!

I want to thank AM 950, here in the Twin Cities, for setting up the meeting. Don't hold my little tantrum against me, I still am working to be a part of the station.

CinchCast: The do nothing Congress strikes out again



I'm so pissed off about the failure to extend unemployment benefits, I forgot to mention that the Senate didn't even vote on equal pay for women...

Don't give up on the Central Corridor just yet.

On a recent blog posting, Dave Mindeman asks who will fight for the Central Corridor? While that's a good question, maybe a better one would be, who on the Republican side wants to grind the project to a halt, after all the initial work has been started. One would think that stopping the project now would be a huge waste of money that was already spent to go forward with the light rail line, that is scheduled to begin running in 2014.

One has to remember that while the GOP will be in charge of the Minnesota Legislature for the next couple of years, chances are still good that Mark Dayton will be our next governor. I have a hard time believing he'd let the existing work that has already been done go to waste. Also, if my recollection is correct, commuter rail is still a high priority of the Obama administration.

Dave is right though. This is not a home run just yet. Congresswoman Betty McCollum will have to get involved to be sure the funding for this project does not dry up.

The strongest case I feel will be to point at all the work that has already been done in the downtown St. Paul area. Parts of Lowertown look like a war zone with all the streets that have been ripped up in moving utility lines, in preparation. Who is going to be the one to step up and say all of that work was for naught?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beats the hell out of posing with Limabugh or Beck...

I think the girl that took the pic should have dragged out the wide angle lens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A long way from using a cell phone connection to do the blogcast...

I still have a face made for radio...

Media Matters: While suggesting he will be set up, Beck assures his listeners "I'm not into child pornography"

CinchCast: Repubs already talking debates at Reagan Library

Sign of the day...

November 13th blogcast...

Social engineering: What will it take to break the cycle of welfare dependency in this state,and across the nation? Also, we talk about the KSTP story about welfare fraud and abuse.

Click here to listen to the archive.

Potential for backlash after KSTP welfare fraud piece.

I watched the KSTP report on welfare fraud last night. While I agree on most of the points of the story, I can't help but think this and a couple of planned follow up stories are going to create a huge backlash on people that rely on state assistance.

There already is a stereotypical view of welfare recipients, that portrays them as them as lazy people, who are unmotivated to get off the government tit. It will be interesting to see if any part of these stories do anything to dispel that myth.

As the story unfolded last night, it became clear that the real targets were state legislators that have been champions of the state's relatively generous welfare system, such as Senator John Marty.

When I started my series on social engineering on Monday, I had no clue that channel 5 was going to run this piece. The report will be part of the conversation Roger and I have, on the blogcast, this Saturday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ironic... KSTP-TV to air report on welfare abuse in Minnesota

The report aired on the station's 10pm newscast. (Link)

In the initial post, I speculated that the station would unfairly group all welfare recipients with the abusers, this was not the case. However, as the station looks to run a series on welfare fraud, it's bound to cause a backlash on the state's welfare system.

CinchCast: Are Progressives ready to throw President Obama under the bus?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Social engineering... Accountability...

My last segment on social engineering may draw the most ire from many of my Progressive friends, but here goes...

In the last two segments, I spoke of personal responsibility, and education. Here, I will talk about accountability to the taxpayers who are helping the poor.

First, let me differentiate between those receiving public assistance with those receiving unemployment benefits. Those on unemployment have shown the ability to obtain work, and are normally unemployed due to no fault of their own. Instead this is more toward those that receive such benefits as AFDC, Food Stamps, housing, and medical assistance for an extended time.

As I wrote Monday, anyone spending government assistance cash should not be using that money to buy booze or illegal drugs, maybe even tobacco products. Different states handle welfare benefits in different ways, but in no way should it be a cashable check. Furthermore, benefits payed through a EBT card should not be allowed to withdraw from an ATM, Nor should they resemble a typical credit card. I also feel that assistance should include a rent and utilities vouchers, as opposed to giving the recipient X amount of dollars to spend at their discretion. Welfare recipients should be accountable for every dime of taxpayer money allotted to them. I also feel mothers receiving AFDC should be required to participate in what I call day care cooperatives, in order to assist other low income families.

Food Stamps should not be used to buy an over abundance of junk food, ie... chips, soda, candy, or cupcakes. We have a major epidemic of obese children in this country, a majority of which come from low income families that receive Food Stamps. That said, Food Stamp benefits should be increased, to allow for the higher price of healthier foods.

Finally, health care... Those receiving medical assistance should show some responsibility for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That would include smoking cessation, and realistic effort to lose weight.

Here's the bottom line... I am all for helping the needy. But simply cutting a monthly check without some degree of accountability is a blatant waste of taxpayer money. The short term cost of of this so called social engineering will be high. But if done properly, the long term result would bring less money spent on caring for the chronically poor.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The OpEd: What's the real deal on outsourcing? - Ed Schultz

Social engineering... Education...

Following up on a post from yesterday morning, I want to talk about education, as it applies to social engineering.

As I eluded to yesterday, poverty is a vicious cycle. If you're poor, chances are really good your kids, and even your grandkids will be as well.

Problem is that many people don't have the social skills to pull themselves out of poverty. At the risk of sounding harsh, some people think it's perfectly ok to squeeze out 2 or 3 kids, with no idea how they are going to support them. I'm not talking about the people who have been working, and who have lost their jobs, and are now having trouble supporting their families. I'm talking about the 18 and 19 year old girls that already have 2 kids from 2 different fathers.

To my knowledge, schools are not currently allowed to teach about any more than basic anatomy in a sex ed class, if it's even offered at all. To me, this would be the perfect setting to teach young, impressionable minds that in the words of a bumper sticker I saw, "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."

This may be a hard lesson to a 12 year old girl who is the oldest child of a 29 year old mom, but it's a lesson that needs to be taught.

Other lessons would include, despite your level of education, walking into a job interview with gang tattoos will all but certainly disqualify you from getting hired.

This is the biggest part of social engineering, in my opinion. I understand that our schools are hard pressed in teaching the basics to our kids. I feel it's just as important to teach them how to be good citizens.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Social engineering... Personal responsibility...

Personal responsibility may sound like a foreign term to a Progressive, but it really isn't. Progressives pay taxes, just like everybody else. I think all taxpayers have some expectation of getting their money's worth when it comes to paying for social programs.

One of those areas I know of first hand is health care. I currently am helped by Minnesota Care. The program allows me to afford the medications I need to keep my type-II diabetes, and high blood pressure under control. In return, I feel it's my responsibility not to be woofing down Quarter Pounders like I did a few years ago. The result is I've dropped 20 pounds in the last month. Another 40, and maybe I can get off a majority of these meds. I'm nobody special, if I can do this, anybody can.

I still believe as a society, we should help those that are in need. But I do join the chorus of those that say that welfare money should not be spend on booze, drugs, or gambling. Nor should food stamps be used for junk or convenience food.

All of this comes with education, point I will go into next.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Social engineering on steroids...

Barring any major events this week, I want to talk about something I have thought long and hard about, since I've started doing the blogcast. You see, if I've learned anything at all in 47 years, I've learned that poverty is a vicious cycle. A cycle that I, or my adult children have not been able to break.

Sometimes poverty is a result of bad circumstances, but most of the time it's due to bad decisions. Bad decisions, most of the time, come from a lack of education. While book smarts are important, I'm talking about an education in life skills.

It's easy to blame parents for not giving their children the proper tools needed to function in life, but in today's economy, it's nearly impossible to have a stay at home parent, that can provide the proper guidance that a growing child needs.

Leading up to to Saturday's show, I am going to put out some ideas in order to help reverse this trend. As always, your input is welcome.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Internet radio, the wave of the future on political talk...

During the show today, I realized that Roger and I are at the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to getting our message out to the people. Internet radio has the potential to blow it's celestial counterpart completely out of the water. BlogTalkRadio.com has massive number if broadcasters, with a wide variety of topics.

I have been using this service for almost a year straight. Alone, and with various co-hosts, I have attempted to bring the Progressive message to an audience I would have never been able to reach otherwise. BlogTalkRadio.com allows me to do something that I have wanted to do for many years, host my own talk show.

Because of the limitations celestial radio has, the average guy couldn't get a break like what's afforded on this medium. A potential listener doesn't even need a computer to hear our show. BlogTalkRadio is accessible on any smart phone, a technology that is increasingly more available, and more affordable. In the next 10 years, nearly everybody will be able to listen to internet broadcasts, just like we listened to our transistor radios back in the 60s.

Like all broadcasters, internet or celestial, Roger and I have do more to increase our share of listeners. We have chose to focus for the most part on events that events that effect us up here in Minnesota. I understand that given the potential worldwide audience, that may be a bit short sighted. But I feel that even on internet radio, one has to start small, and build a following.

In the weeks and months to come, we hope you can find the time to join us, either live or on the show's archive.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Saturday, we lick our wounds...

Roger and I take the time to analyze what went wrong in last Tuesday's election, and what we can do correct the situation for 2012.

Click here to listen to the archive...

My 2 cents on the Olbermann situation...

My Twitter account has been non stop with opinions about the suspension of Keith Olbermann by MSNBC, for allegedly donating to a couple of political campaigns, a violation of the network's policy. The logical side of me acknowledges that because Olbermann violated policy, MSNBC was well within their right to levy the penalty.

Unfortunately, these are not logical times. How else do you explain the voters of this nation handing back power to the political party that, as President Obama so correctly stated, "ran our country into the ditch."

MSNBC has been the one bastion of hope, in a media market that has been clouded by corporate or Conservative interests. Olbermann has been the standard barer for the Progressive cause. Pulling the plug on his "Countdown" show will surely have a negative ripple effect.

We all look at the way money is thrown around at political campaigns with great disdain. God knows, FOX News, and others have shelled out plenty of cash to Conservative candidates. In my opinion, Olbermann was just fighting fire with fire.

Just a word of advice to you neo-cons who are dancing in the street over this, hopefully temporary, suspension. Us on the left aint in a real good mood right now. Losing control of the House of Representatives, as well a losses in other key statewide elections, will only serve to strengthen our resolve. I promise, you won't catch us napping again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ideas for upcoming shows...

Now that the election is over, and Roger and I lick our wounds from ass kicking the Democrats took, there are some topics I'd like to cover over the next few weeks, including...

The real problem at the Mexican border.

A realistic look at the "Fair Tax."

The high cost of attending a professional sporting event.

Will President Obama face a Democratic challenger in 2012?

A comprehensive (and expensive) way to end welfare dependency.

If you like to offer some feedback on any of these topics, or have something you'd like us to cover, send me an e-mail, or jot a comment to this posting.

A simple look at repealing the Bush tax cuts...

Of all my areas of in-expertise, economics is probably up there towards the top of things I don't know a whole lot about. However, one thing seems extremely logical to me. If you're going to extend Bush era tax cuts to higher end income levels, those people better be investing in creating jobs, not just sticking it in mason jars, per se.

I keep hearing that personal tax increases hurt small businesses, and prohibits job growth. I don't quite get that. It would seem to me that employees are a business expense, thus making them tax deductible.

I think the confusion here is business tax, as opposed to personal income tax. In other words, if Minnesota's favorite multi-millionaire, Joe Mauer wanted to invest a few million in a job creating venture, it would stand to reason that that business would be taxed at a much smaller rate than if he kept that money in his pocket, wouldn't it?

I think the biggest frustration in this country is that the wealthy find ways to pay less of a percentage of their income in taxes than the guy who flips burgers for a living. This is where I think consumption taxes, as opposed to personal income taxes may be a better idea.

Either way, I think any of us in the 22.5 club want is for those in the 22.5 million club to pay the same percentage of tax as we do, without the loopholes.

This will end this edition of Simple Man's Economics-101.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New York Times Opinion: How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms

If I were one of the big corporate donors who bankrolled the Republican tide that carried into office more than 50 new Republicans in the House, I would be wary of what you just bought.

For no matter your view of President Obama, he effectively saved capitalism. And for that, he paid a terrible political price.

Read the rest of the story here...

A glimmer of good news...

I told Roger I wasn't going to talk about any more about the election until Saturday's blogcast. I lied...

Despite how I feel about the overall election results, I want to congratulate Hussein Samatar, who was the first Somali-American (I'll make an exception to my hyphenated American rule here) to be elected to public office in Minnesota, possibly in the country, according to reports.

Samatar was elected to the Minneapolis School Board.

We have a large Somali presence in Minnesota. I hope to see their community gain more representation in future elections.

All pain, little gain...

I just have to stop attending home team events...

When Lori and I arrived at the Minneapolis Hilton, around 9pm, Mark Dayton had a fairly comfortable lead over Tom Emmer. That lead dwindled faster than the Twins' hopes of advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

We had to throw in the towel around 12:30. I stayed up for about another hour, watching the results from home. When I woke up this morning, at 5:30 Dayton's lead was less than 10,000 votes, setting the stage for an inevitable recount.

Going into this election, I thought going to the polls and using this blog and our show would be enough to, at the very least, ensure that Mark Dayton would be the next resident of the Governor's Mansion. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Many of the individuals at DFL election party had spent countless hours knocking on doors and making phone calls. In the end, it just wasn't enough. Even if Dayton wins the gubernatorial election, the overwhelming wins by Republicans in the state Senate and House elections will spell certain doom for any statewide progressive agenda.

While I'm a little discouraged, this morning, possibly because I'm operating on less than 3 hours sleep, I will not give up on the Democratic cause. We have to remember the good that has come to to this state over the years under primarily Democratic leadership, despite not having the governor's seat for nearly 12 years.

Yes, my back and knees are killing me after standing for nearly 4 hours straight, and I'm horribly disappointed by the results of last night's election, but this will only serve to strengthen my resolve.

I that ask all Minnesota Democrats to remember this moment, and how we got here. We can never take another election for granted again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our first big political event...

Well, I'm about to take Lori to her first political function, as we attend the Minnesota DFL (hopefully) victory party at the Minneapolis Hilton. This will also be my first time attending an event of this political magnitude.

Yes, I'm beginning to get in with both feet. My work schedule makes it prohibitive to do much campaigning, but I've tried to use this blog and the blogcast to get my political feelings out to as many as possible. I hope it's paid off.

This Saturday, Roger and I will cover the ramifications of today's election, both on a state and national level. Let's hope we can talk about good news.

I look forward to meeting a few of the folks that I know read this blog.