Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Minneapolis 4th District Ballot Endorsements

It's that time of year again. Time to listen to me and vote just like me for a better Minnesota. Think of the children, people.

Need a sample ballot for your district? Here you go. Statewide races today, county, ballot initiatives and judges tomorrow.

Governor: Tom Emmer

Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for nominating Mark Dayton. Dayton's Senate tenure was erratic, marred by ideological excess, and most memorable for bizarre retreat from an apocryphal terrorist attack. Just as you would expect from a trust fund baby.

Tom Horner's campaign was arrogant and aloof, studded by nebulous promises to reform the way government works. His creepy banner ads were among the most annoying of this campaign cycle. His appeal to moderation for its own sake, dubious in any political climate, is particularly tin-eared in this case.

Emmer is unspectacular, but so what? With Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas soon to be represented by Republican governors, we don't need spectacular. We need an ideology that will keep businesses competitive. Unless moving to Des Moines or La Crosse strikes your fancy...

Secretary of State: Dan Severson

Mark Ritchie presided over one of the more corrupt election recounts your going to find. I don't care what party you are, if someone claims to find 200 ballots in the trunk of a car, you investigate.

But the best reason to vote for Dan Severson is that he supports photo ID for voting. This issue isn't on most people's radar screens because they simply assume you need a photo ID in order to vote. You don't. Severson is running on a comprehensive package of solutions, which will go a long way toward preventing future recount fiascoes. He has my strong support.

State Auditor: Pat Anderson

Patty Anderson was a fine state auditor until Rebecca Otto ran a disingenuous campaign highlighting accounting errors that had occurred under Anderson's watch. Those same errors have occurred during Otto's tenure. In addition, from what I can gather, Otto's office has lost or misplaced data on many of the investigations Anderson was engaging.

If being error-prone disqualifies one from holding the office of State Auditor, then Otto needs to go.

Attorney General: Lori Swanson

By all accounts, Lori Swanson is working to deal with problems unique to Minnesota. She has cracked down on sexual predators, shady debt companies, and ID theft, while largely ignoring liberal hobbyhorses (she matches her opponent's NRA rating, for example). She also impressed on the issue of Illinois sending toll-road violation tickets to innocent MN drivers (years after the violation occurred), essentially telling the Illinois thugocracy to clean up their own mess before citing MN drivers.

Her opponent, Chris Barden, is no slouch. He is a prominent psychologist and lawyer, who has done pioneering work debunking cases based on "repressed memories". I have no doubt that his criminal law expertise would be useful in the role of AG. Swanson didn't do herself any favors by failing to address corruption within the Hatch administration. I can scarcely blame Republican voters for selecting Barden.

Unfortunately, Barden has hitched his wagon to the multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare. The premise of the lawsuit might be sound, and Obamacare is obviously a disaster. But the suit doesn't speak to the primary problem with the legislation, nor is this the right vehicle to properly challenge it. I fear it will become a distraction.

District 5 Representative: Joel Demos

For a sacrificial lamb, Demos has run a pretty effective campaign. Environmentally moderate but fiscally conservative, Demos certainly represents the best interests of this district. But Ellison is an anti-Semitic Muslim in a district with a lot of Muslims in a city with a notoriously anti-Semitic past. His leadership is bad for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Lynne Torgerson is a non-entity, failing to reject a Tea Party Nation endorsement that cited Ellison's faith as a reason to oppose him.

Ellison may be a lifer, but this is his ceiling. Demos has shown he has a future ahead of him.

State Senator - District 58A: Hayley Astrup

Hayley to be the first Republican candidate for public office whose Twitter account doubles as her campaign website. The conservative law student is well versed on a variety of issues, likes to debate them, and reads The Onion. It's like voting for me... So naturally she earns my endorsement.

Linda Higgins is experienced, for all the good that's done us. Someone in her party spent a whole mess of money in support of her opponent (Troy Parker's roadsigns still litter our roadways), which means she has made some enemies. As it is, her participation in the Senate is limited to things like the Voter Registration Card Re-design Task Force. Pretty sure Ms. Astrup could step in and keep the ball rolling there.

State Representative - District 58A: Chris Hiatt

For crying out loud, if you're going to run for office, at least take the time to submit your biographical information to pertinent websites. Maybe a headshot too, eh? This is purely a vote against Joe Mullery, largely regarded as one of the least effective members of the house.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, when poorer districts in big cities elect lifers, they get nothing in return for their vote. I would like something in return for mine. Mullery's dad may have taught in our district, but Joe himself forgot us long ago.

Tomorrow: County races and Judges... Stay tuned.



















Minneapolis 4th District Ballot Endorsements

It's that time of year again. Time to listen to me and vote just like me for a better Minnesota. Think of the children, people.

Need a sample ballot for your district? Here you go. Statewide races today, county, ballot initiatives and judges tomorrow.

Governor: Tom Emmer

Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for nominating Mark Dayton. Dayton's Senate tenure was erratic, marred by ideological excess, and most memorable for bizarre retreat from an apocryphal terrorist attack. Just as you would expect from a trust fund baby.

Tom Horner's campaign was arrogant and aloof, studded by nebulous promises to reform the way government works. His creepy banner ads were among the most annoying of this campaign cycle. His appeal to moderation for its own sake, dubious in any political climate, is particularly tin-eared in this case.

Emmer is unspectacular, but so what? With Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas soon to be represented by Republican governors, we don't need spectacular. We need an ideology that will keep businesses competitive. Unless moving to Des Moines or La Crosse strikes your fancy...

Secretary of State: Dan Severson

Mark Ritchie presided over one of the more corrupt election recounts your going to find. I don't care what party you are, if someone claims to find 200 ballots in the trunk of a car, you investigate.

But the best reason to vote for Dan Severson is that he supports photo ID for voting. This issue isn't on most people's radar screens because they simply assume you need a photo ID in order to vote. You don't. Severson is running on a comprehensive package of solutions, which will go a long way toward preventing future recount fiascoes. He has my strong support.

State Auditor: Pat Anderson

Patty Anderson was a fine state auditor until Rebecca Otto ran a disingenuous campaign highlighting accounting errors that had occurred under Anderson's watch. Those same errors have occurred during Otto's tenure. In addition, from what I can gather, Otto's office has lost or misplaced data on many of the investigations Anderson was engaging.

If being error-prone disqualifies one from holding the office of State Auditor, then Otto needs to go.

Attorney General: Lori Swanson

By all accounts, Lori Swanson is working to deal with problems unique to Minnesota. She has cracked down on sexual predators, shady debt companies, and ID theft, while largely ignoring liberal hobbyhorses (she matches her opponent's NRA rating, for example). She also impressed on the issue of Illinois sending toll-road violation tickets to innocent MN drivers (years after the violation occurred), essentially telling the Illinois thugocracy to clean up their own mess before citing MN drivers.

Her opponent, Chris Barden, is no slouch. He is a prominent psychologist and lawyer, who has done pioneering work debunking cases based on "repressed memories". I have no doubt that his criminal law expertise would be useful in the role of AG. Swanson didn't do herself any favors by failing to address corruption within the Hatch administration. I can scarcely blame Republican voters for selecting Barden.

Unfortunately, Barden has hitched his wagon to the multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare. The premise of the lawsuit might be sound, and Obamacare is obviously a disaster. But the suit doesn't speak to the primary problem with the legislation, nor is this the right vehicle to properly challenge it. I fear it will become a distraction.

District 5 Representative: Joel Demos

For a sacrificial lamb, Demos has run a pretty effective campaign. Environmentally moderate but fiscally conservative, Demos certainly represents the best interests of this district. But Ellison is an anti-Semitic Muslim in a district with a lot of Muslims in a city with a notoriously anti-Semitic past. His leadership is bad for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Lynne Torgerson is a non-entity, failing to reject a Tea Party Nation endorsement that cited Ellison's faith as a reason to oppose him.

Ellison may be a lifer, but this is his ceiling. Demos has shown he has a future ahead of him.

State Senator - District 58A: Hayley Astrup

Hayley to be the first Republican candidate for public office whose Twitter account doubles as her campaign website. The conservative law student is well versed on a variety of issues, likes to debate them, and reads The Onion. It's like voting for me... So naturally she earns my endorsement.

Linda Higgins is experienced, for all the good that's done us. Someone in her party spent a whole mess of money in support of her opponent (Troy Parker's roadsigns still litter our roadways), which means she has made some enemies. As it is, her participation in the Senate is limited to things like the Voter Registration Card Re-design Task Force. Pretty sure Ms. Astrup could step in and keep the ball rolling there.

State Representative - District 58A: Chris Hiatt

For crying out loud, if you're going to run for office, at least take the time to submit your biographical information to pertinent websites. Maybe a headshot too, eh? This is purely a vote against Joe Mullery, largely regarded as one of the least effective members of the house.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, when poorer districts in big cities elect lifers, they get nothing in return for their vote. I would like something in return for mine. Mullery's dad may have taught in our district, but Joe himself forgot us long ago.

Tomorrow: County races and Judges... Stay tuned.



















Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Musings - NPR edition

It's Monday. I'm harvesting peppers, dammit. Let's muse.

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Some observations on the Juan Williams firing.

-Nobody has made a comment about "uppity blacks", even though it seems quite reasonable to argue that Juan Williams wouldn't have been fired if he were white.

-The CEO of NPR questioned Williams' sanity, and then promptly apologized, noting that her comments were ill-advised. Williams was fired for precisely her offense.

-I was making the case that state-run radio in this country is absurd long before that became a hip talking point. It remains a pretty hip talking point.

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Barack Obama visited the cities yesterday. He said that Dayton is the only one on the record saving Minnesotans money.

To which, does Obama even know who Dayton is? Could that talking point have been any more generic, to the point of being absurd? Nobody, left or right, thinks Dayton has saved Minnesotans money. That's not his platform. The hell?

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I linked to this on Facebook, but it bears repeating here.


Essentially, there are now ten dead, mostly babies, from an outbreak of whooping cough. Thanks to the miracles of science, we solved whooping cough. There is a vaccine for it.

What we did not solve is the reflexive cynicism people have toward fact. There is a growing trend, not least of which among (ugh) Christians, to abstain from vaccinations. Armed with terrible evidence, and the benefit of collective vaccinations, parents are choosing not to vaccinate.

People are now dead because of this. The argument against vaccinating children is as incoherent (and immoral) as the argument for legal abortion. Vaccines save lives. If you don't believe the scientific studies, believe your lying eyes, but ignore the ridiculous rumor and innuendo. Kids are not dying in droves anymore.

Vaccinate, for crying out loud. When you don't, babies die. Period.

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On the flip side, this is what happens when scientists in other fields engage in shenanigans. I'm looking at you, scientists who can see me staring at them.

Babies die when scientists write about massaging consensus. Period.

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Wife and I made it to Door County a couple of weeks ago. Those looking to avoid Duluth's absurd peak fall season mark ups would do well to hit up DC. Half the price, twice the foliage, none of the Duluth.

On food:

On the basis of a single data point, I am going to conclude that there is an inverse correlation between the quality of a restaurant's food and the number of goats residing on its rough. Also, if you are a self-proclaimed Scandinavian restaurant (no matter how kitschy) do utilize the correct recipe for Swedish meatballs. Not. Rocket science.

In fact, pass on any and all Scandinavian-themed restaurants in Door County.

Do NOT pass on the Whistling Swan. In addition to having an enviably gorgeous space, the chef there is putting out some very food-forward stuff. The fish is to die for, but I loved the treatment of bread service (viz a cardamom biscuit) as a course. So smart. Local restos, steal this idea.

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I could go on and on about cranberry curry. This uniquely Minnesotan pleasure surpasses the Juicy Lucy on my list of guilty pleasures. Just had Thanh Do's version. You can find it elsewhere. Gobble it up.

I shouldn't downplay Thanh Do. I'm always one to mildly tolerate asian fusion, but this place hits on all cylinders for a place striving to connect with suburban palates.

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My four word review of Shutter Island? Gangs of New York.

That is all.




Sunday, October 17, 2010

GOP Women are Mean

In addition to being Nazis and/or buffoons, the women of the GOP also find the time to be mean. So says Maureen "I dub thee kettle black" Dowd in her latest op-ed in the Paper of Former Credibility. Let's enjoy some petty reading, shall we?

As I sat above the Hoover Dam under the broiling sun, I was getting jittery.

Sigh. 700 more words of this crap. Alrighty then...

As the politicians droned on and my Irish skin turned toasty brown, I worried that Governor Brewer might make a citizen’s arrest and I would have to run for my life across the desert. She has, after all, declared open season on anyone with a suspicious skin tone in her state.

So, Jan Brewer is mean by virtue of adhering to Maureen's caricature of her position. That's reasonable.

We are in the era of Republican Mean Girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.

Stealing the boyfriend of an angry liberal or, as Republican women call it, existing. Seriously, though, spray painting lockers? Did Maureen go to high school in a John Hughes movie?

These women — Jan, Meg, Carly, Sharron, Linda, Michele, Queen Bee Sarah and sweet wannabe Christine — have co-opted and ratcheted up the disgust with the status quo that originally buoyed Barack Obama.

Calling someone a "wannabe" is mean, in precisely the way that high school girls are mean. Also, if Maureen lost her boyfriend to Sharron Angle...

Whether they’re belittling the president’s manhood,

Or, as Republican women call it, existing.

making snide comments about a rival’s hair or ripping an opponent for spending money on a men’s fashion show,

...would be quite a bit like making fun of the minority leader for tanning, which the New York Times does, literally, on a weekly basis. That said, doesn't this kinda blow a hole in the whole "cheerleader" theory? Sarah was a basketball player, Christine was a witch, Meg graduated high school in three years, "Linda" graduated college in three.

Granted, these women have accomplished things, unlike our president. Maybe that's why Dowd thinks they are so mean. Cheerleaders can get awfully jealous for the boys on the team.

the Mean Girls have replaced Hope with Spite and Cool with Cold.

I am totally fine with this trade-off. "Hope" and "cool" have put us "over" a "barrel". Let's make with the cold and honest. Spite can tag along, too.

Seated next to Brewer at the bridge dedication was Harry Reid, the slight, mild-mannered, 70-year-old Senate majority leader who has wandered into the surprise fight of his career — a race where the fur is flying.

I saw clips from the Angle-Reid debate. Suffices to say, the fur is decidedly intact. Also, calling someone mild-mannered seems a bit of damning with faint praise.

“Man up, Harry Reid,” Sharron Angle taunted him at their Las Vegas debate here Thursday night. That’s not an idle insult, coming from a woman who campaigns at times with a .44 Magnum revolver in her 1989 GMC pickup.

It's really mean of her to drive a GMC pickup.

With casino red suit and lipstick, Angle played the Red Queen of the Mad Hatter tea party...

My goodness. If this analogy were being held at Guantanamo, Amnesty International would be involved.

Even sober and smiling beneath her girlish bangs, the 61-year-old Angle had the slightly threatening air of the inebriated lady in a country club bar,

Why do I get the distinct impression that Dowd has been that lady?

The debate between the former boxer and the former competitive weight lifter

Wait. Angle was a competitive weight lifter?

Angle could have told the poignant story of her German immigrant great-grandmother who died trying to save laundry hanging on the clothesline in a South Dakota prairie fire, which Angle wrote about in her self-published book, “Prairie Fire.”

Seriously? Wow. Angle needs to get herself a Dos Equis commercial.

But instead the former teacher and assemblywoman began hurling cafeteria insults. “I live in a middle-class neighborhood in Reno, Nevada,” she said. “Senator Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.”

Yeah, I got that insult all the time in school. "Why don't you go back to the Ritz-Carlton, Kevin." Just because I went to school in a tuxedo and played the fife. That Steve was a real jerk.

But he did rebut Angle’s inane contention that health insurers should not have to cover anything, talking about how important it was to be covered on mammograms and colonoscopies.

“If you do colonoscopies,” he said, “colon cancer does not come ’cause you snip off the things they find when they go up and — no more.”

Yeah, that's a sterling refutation right there. I hope he got home in time for Wapner. Egads.

“Well,” Angle replied tartly, “pink ribbons are not going to make people have a better insurance plan.”

So, you can be mild-mannered and incoherent, or you can be accurate and awesome. The latter, of course, is mean.

Angle has been pressing the case, underwritten by Karl Rove’s operation and other conservative groups that have made the majority leader their No. 1 target, that Reid must be punished for being in a socialist triumvirate with Nancy Pelosi and President Obama.

Angle is engaging in the uniquely Rovian strategy of running against her opponent.

In the debate, she went for the jugular, asking him how he became “one of the richest men in the Senate” after coming from Searchlight “with very little.”

Oh, I get it. It's mean to ask career politicians how they have come to benefit so handsomely from their political careers. Best to just let them get rich and not say a peep. Wouldn't want to be mean.

He said that was “really kind of a low blow,” adding that he had been a successful lawyer before becoming a pol, and “did a very good job in investing.”

Maureen Dowd is not mean, and therefore passes along this bald-faced lie as fact. Yeah, it was his two years as City Attorney for Henderson, Nevada that laid the groundwork for his fortune.

After the debate was over, Angle scurried away and so did I — in a different direction. I was feeling jittery again. If she saw me, she might take away my health insurance and spray-paint my locker.

Love the comparison of Angle to a scurrying animal. How apropos of an op-ed about how people are mean.

Let's review

a) Jan Brewer supports allowing police to ask for papers for suspected illegal immigrants, a policy supported by the majority in her state and nationwide.

b) Sharron Angle had some pointed questions for Harry Reid and also drives a truck.

therefore

c) Carly Fiorina is mean.

Here's my take. People who resort to calling other people mean are, almost to a name, mean themselves. Like the civility thing, calling someone "mean" is a bludgeon.

But really, it just doesn't seem like Maureen Dowd has anything to say anymore. She has a "way with words" in a political atmosphere that demands ideas and concepts, however poorly expressed.

The days of catty rhetoric passing for analysis are done, at least for now. America has had it with a country where power brokers reside in country club cocktail lounges.

This is a world that no longer has any need for Maureen Dowd. That's all a bit sad, but look at it this way. Nobody spray paints an ice flow.




Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monday Musings

It's Monday. That used to mean musings, and will henceforth. Let's roll.

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Why is it that multi-platinum rap artists always complain about haters (aka hata'z)? These are the least hated people in the world, receiving popular and critical acclaim in spite of the fact that the vast majority of their output is incoherent vulgarity.

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Why does Superman II have a Metacritic rating of 99/100? That makes it the best film of the last 30 years.

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If there are so few compelling roles for women, why did the director of Youth in Revolt give such a meaty one to some girl named Portia Doubleday? Was she on a Disney show or something?

Otherwise, the movie is a pretty funny take on a book that was begging to be made into a movie.

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I caught Let Me In, the unnecessary remake of Let The Right One In, which regular readers have seen by now (right?).

The movie is quite good, as I assumed it would be. It takes a genre-transcending masterpiece and turns it into a very well executed genre flick, but when was the last time you saw a well-executed horror movie? Joyride? The Sixth Sense?

At any rate, Chloe Moretz deserves an Oscar nomination for either this film or Kick Ass. She will not receive one, to make room for someone from Secretariat and some veteran actor's brassy performance in an otherwise unwatchable film.

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Speaking of horror, vulgarity, and a lack of talent, I Spit in Your Grave has been remade. If it didn't offend my libertarian sensibilities, I'd call for the government to create a database of attendees. I think if you'd cross reference a list of guys who dress like Star Wars, guys who watch this movie, and guys who eat at Culvers, you'd have ten years worth of Dateline specials.

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Let's all thank the Minnesota Twins for their obligatory first-round ass whoopin'. If they were a college basketball team, they'd be E. Tennessee State.

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In college football news, Boise State drops in the polls after clobbering its opponents, in order to accommodate some Pac 10 team. Of course, polls don't matter because college football is a sport and not a race for prom queen.

Oh, right.

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Restaurants, you say? Here's the scoop.

Koyi has moved from Downtown to the Seward neighborhood. Among other things, they seem to have left the ambiance, as well as the ability to make reasonably priced, palatable sushi. My clam was dry and warm, and the house salad ($4) was two tablespoons of iceberg lettuce smothered in what tasted like Catalina dressing. At $13, hot sake isn't really even an option. What happened here?

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On the other hand, Mt. Fuji in Maple Grove was a pleasant surprise. Company at hand ordered that teppanyaki (the deal where they juggle spatulas and set your dinner on fire to entertain you), which is always a pre-fab experience, but the broiled squid was intriguing and generously portioned, and the salmon sushi dinner was a highlight.

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If you make it to Travail, do make it a point to try their blue cheese tater tots. They are more like potato croquettes, soft on the inside, laced with truffle oil. That they cost the same as that dreadful house salad should be a cue to high-tail it to Robbinsdale, if you haven't already.

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I'd go on, but all the hata'z (haterz? haytuz?) are getting up on me.



Monday, October 04, 2010

Books Get Dusty

Of late, the New York Times has made it a practice of profiling the Tea Party on a weekly basis. This weekend's edition discusses, um, what Tea Party members are reading. I guess that's nominally more compelling than Sarah Palin's wardrobe. Here's an excerpt:

But when it comes to ideology, it has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas. It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon.
Note the sneering tone. Apparently, trolling dusty bookshelves is some sort of offense against civility now. Memo to Kate: Reading is cool.

That said, the term "once-obscure" seems a bit redundant. If they were obscure, and had remained so until now, it would be sufficient to say they resurrected obscure texts, yah?

And what constitutes an ancient, obscure text?

“The 5000 Year Leap,” self-published in 1981 by an anti-communist crusader
That crusader had a name, Cleon Skousen. He wasn't that obscure (he was actually very controversial), and neither was this text, which was written as conservative forces were coalescing in response to Reagan's election.

The "self-published" bit is misleading. It was published by the Center for Constitutional Studies, Skousen's right-wing think tank. It is not uncommon for published works to emanate from think-tanks, and many of those works have proven very influential over the years.

Skousen did die in 2006. So did Saddam Hussein. So what?

It is absurd to argue that a book written 29 years ago can possibly represent "long-dormant ideas". How old is the journalist? She also cites Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which was written in 1944, and was not at all obscure.

The (apparently) heretofore unheralded Ayn Rand gets a mention as well.

I'll note that this poorly considered opinion piece is not located in the opinion section of the paper. Someday, scholars seeking to understand the demise of print journalism with find this article on a dusty bookshelf. It won't take 29 years.