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January 4, 2008

Veto Proof Senate

At least Minnesota has one - for now. Let's see how Timmy the Tool is going to rule as dictator now.

July 11, 2007

Michelle Bachmann Proves Eye-Rack No Longer Safe For Self-Serving Congressional Junkets

Geez, the people of St. Cloud and the sixth district picked this woman over Patty Wetterling? Is there something in the water up there?

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann continued to stand by President Bush's military surge in Iraq, two days after returning from a congressional trip that put her in the line of fire while visiting Baghdad.

"It hasn't had a chance to be in place long enough to offer a critique of how it's working," said Bachmann, R-Minn.

. . .The delegation's visit was harrowing at times. While visiting with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's walled, high-security Green Zone on Friday, mortar blasts landed inside the American-controlled territory.

"This recorded message played four times while we were there, asking us to move away from any windows, to get on the ground and move to the center of the building," Bachmann said. "(Crocker) stayed in his seat and kept talking with us the whole time. He never moved."

. . .Security conditions in Iraq prevented Bachmann from meeting any Iraqis, leaving the Green Zone or staying in Iraq overnight. She and other congressional members were required to wear full body armor, including Kevlar helmets, during the entire trip, she said.

But she said she was encouraged by reports of progress from Crocker, Gen. David Petraeus and other personnel in Iraq linked to the surge.

A comprehensive report on military progress and whether the Iraqi government is meeting a series of political benchmarks Bush has set is expected.

"(Gen. Petraeus) said al-Qaida in Iraq is off its plan and we want to keep it that way," she said. "The surge has only been fully in place for a week or so."

Only thirteen more months, only thirteen more months. . .

(via Americablog)

June 12, 2007

Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

But it sure disproves a bunch of bullshit arguments that low taxes equal more prosperity:

Minn. No Longer Among Top 10 Most-Taxed States

(AP) Minnesota has dropped out of the top 10 states in per capita tax rankings for the first time in about 25 years, according to an analysis by an arm of the nonpartisan Minnesota Taxpayers Association.

Minnesota now stands 12th in the nation in state and local taxes as well as in government spending, according to the report from the Minnesota Center for Public Finance Research.

And when taxes and spending are measured as a percentage of personal income, the numbers really plummet. By that measure, the state has fallen to 23rd in taxes and 31st in state and local government spending, said the report released Monday.

While the numbers reflect years of GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty's no-tax-increase policies and budget restraint, they also show that local governments appear to have reined themselves in as well.

Minnesota has long ranked in the top 10 in most measures of tax burden. This report marks the first time since 1979 that it has dropped below the top 10 in spending per person by state and local governments and the first time since 1981 that it has dropped from the top 10 in taxes per capita.

. . .Pawlenty said the new numbers show his administration escaped the ranks of the highest-taxed states "by holding government accountable and setting priorities.

"That's good news for taxpayers and a signal to those who want to grow jobs in Minnesota that we're open for business," the governor said in a statement.

Pay attention, because that last line is important:

Minnesota's Jobless Rate Tops National Rate In May

(AP) This is one national average Minnesota didn't want to top.

Minnesota's unemployment rate in May was higher than the national average for the first time since the state began tracking those numbers, the Department of Employment and Economic Development said Tuesday.

The state unemployment rate in May was 4.6 percent, up from 4.5 percent in April. Nationally the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in both months.

But the state also said it added 41,500 jobs over the past year, and the number of Minnesota jobs grew slightly faster than the national average.

Toby Madden, regional economist for the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis, said the apparent discrepancy is probably explained by self-employed workers, especially those in the hard-hit construction industry. Hard times for them would show up in the unemployment number because it's gathered by a phone survey, while the number of jobs is reported by employers.

Minnesota has seen a "huge drop in housing starts last year, and we're continuing to see some deterioration in housing starts this year," he said. "The construction industry is obviously hurting the employment picture."

May 30, 2007

Yet Another Eye-Rack War Casualty

This is getting to be one lousy Memorial Day weekend:

Minnesota National Guard member killed in a standoff with police in central Minnesota was suicidal in the past, and initial reports indicated he was intoxicated and driving with a loaded shotgun on the morning of his death, authorities said Tuesday.

But Spc. Brian William Skold, 28, of Sauk Rapids, was also a caring person, who loved water-skiing, fishing and hunting, and drew people in with his outgoing personality.

"He had just a zest for life," said his sister, Jenny Trager. "People really liked him. I guess he would be what I would call a social butterfly. ... He enjoyed being with friends and family."

Skold served about a year in Iraq. Police weren't saying whether lingering effects from his deployment contributed to Sunday morning's incident along Interstate 94, in which he fled from authorities and fired at least one shot from a 12-gauge shotgun before police returned fire, killing him.

May 10, 2007

Codpieces

So that explains why I had to put up with Jonah Goldberg and Mona Charen in the Strib each week. Overall, it really is a shame that the Wall Street corporations that currently control most of the print media are hellbent in destroying their product whenever they lose a little revenue to an emerging media.

(via Atrios)

May 8, 2007

Harvard Grad Wins Minnesota Teacher Of The Year

No kidding:

Michael Smart said he is used to addressing groups of 20 to 25 students at a time, so it was understandable that his heart was racing when he stepped to the microphone on Sunday after being named the 2007 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

. . .Smart gave his remarks in English, but he is just as comfortable conversing in Japanese, a subject he teaches at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth through Intermediate School District 287's Global Languages Program.

He also teaches online classes in Japanese.

Smart, a teacher for 20 years, was one of 11 finalists and one of 130 candidates for the annual award from Education Minnesota, which represents more than 70,000 educators.

Four Minnesota teachers who have won the award in its 43-year history have gone on to become the National Teacher of the Year.

"When I started teaching, I wanted to become a great teacher," said Smart, 45, of Golden Valley. "But classes went much better when I stopped focusing on becoming the best teacher I could be and started focusing on helping my students become the best students they could be."

In choosing Smart, Education Minnesota noted his use of nearly every available means to keep students engaged and involved, including interactive cable TV, videos, computers, the Internet, role playing and games to personalize learning.

"I love to see kids laughing. I love to see kids learning. When you have laughing, learning and bring relevance to the classroom it makes my job so easy it is a joy," he said.

Smart's enthusiasm for his subject and his students might explain why enrollment in his courses has jumped from 12 students in 1991 to more than 100 this year.

. . .Smart earned an economics degree from Harvard in 1984 and a master's degree in education from the University of Minnesota in 2003.

He spent four years teaching at the ECC Foreign Language Institute in Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s before coming to Minnesota to teach Japanese to students at Cooper, Armstrong, Osseo, Park Center and Maple Grove high schools through District 287, a district created by 13 school districts in the Twin Cities area to provide specialized services.

Yes, it takes extra-ordinary people to be able to teach kids as effectively as he does. Especially in the public schools where you don't get to choose your students. But more often than not, extra-ordinary people tend not to get into the education business because of the high stress and low pay. Why the hell should you get a graduate degree for a job that pays, at best, bachelor degree wages? And look at this Michael Smart guy. He survives Marty Feldsteins class(es?) to get a degree in Economics and instead of becoming rich elected to impart his knowledge on high-school students. That is a rare breed indeed. But as long as we pay babysitters more than we do teachers, the Michael Smarts of the world will remain the exceptions that prove the rule.

April 19, 2007

That's One Way To Duck A Midterm

Apparently a theory surrounding yesterday's closure of 8 East Bank buildings is because there was a Chemistry 1021 midterm scheduled that day:

Patel said she wasn't sure about the motives of the threat, but Chemistry 1021 had a test and said that "could be the reason."

"I don't know what was going on in that person's head when they announced the bomb threat," she said.

Heather Raco, first year pre-veterinary student, said she had a test in Smith Hall right before it was evacuated.

Raco said she left the building for a coffee break and when she came back all the doors were locked.

She and many other students had a chemistry mid-term in Smith Hall later in the day, she said.

Come on, I took that class, it's only 30 questions, multiple choice. If it was organic chemistry, then maybe I would have understood the need for the threat.

April 4, 2007

Since I Couldn't Be There. . .

My reich-wing congressman John Kline held a town hall meeting yesterday in Lakeville. Since I was burdened with domestic duties that night, I couldn't make it to that media-controlled photo-op. But Jeff Fecke of Minnesota Monitor was able to get in (he was prevented from live-blogging, however) and provided us with the highlights. My favorite is the Iraqi refugee who had to flee because of the current violence who pleaded Kline to continue the violence so his former country can be free to practice the type of democracy the United States enjoys. Can someone say "right-wing plant"?

(via Chris Truscott who also provided his own account of the meeting)

March 15, 2007

We Have Racist Cops In The MPD?

John Aravosis of Americablog couldn't believe that a guy like Lt. Bob Kroll, the guy who reportedly called Keith Ellison a terrorist, would still be on the police force.

Come on, John, just last year we've elected a sheriff who admitted he used the word "nigger" to describe black people. Sure, the city is liberal enough, but it is still a mutiethnic island in a sea of white.

March 12, 2007

How To Ride Public Transportation

Sure some people might be scared off by stories like this:

A shooting occurred on a Metro Transit bus this evening in north Minneapolis, and one person was taken to a hospital, the transit spokesman said.

. . .The shooting occurred on the No. 5 line, which Gibbons described as the “most heavily used in the region.?

He added that “because of the communities it goes through, it has its share of difficulties.? The No. 5 runs from Brooklyn Center, through north Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, south Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and the Mall of America.

Public transportation has the emphasis on the word "public". You can't choose the people that ride on the bus (or train), it comes with the territory. I used to ride that line in order to go to work in Bloomington, didn't really feel unsafe.

But the most important rule is that it is neer a good idea to give an eyefuck, even for a moment. These people on the bus lines and trains like to be kept alone and would only give up their personal space if they have to. Unfortunately even when people like Sarah concentrate on observing this rule they might still get unwanted attention. So we are forced to humor people, big deal. Makes the trip more interesting. I hear people in other places not known for their "Minnesota Ice" likes to have conversations with complete strangers.

March 2, 2007

Police Lieutenant Allegedly Called Ellison A Terra-ist

Of course they are denying it as is standard procedure for the purpetually embattled police department, but the two officers who should be well versed in the omerta culture of their department wouldn't have come forward if Lieutenant Kroll haven't said it. And if he did, it wouldn't surprise me at all. The MPD is a bastion of suburban conservatism forever at war with the liberal and mutlicultural elements of the city and at the same time disconnected from it. Which is why the FOP endorsed for the first time ever a Minnesota Senate candidate, and the candidate is Republican Mark Kennedy, despite Amy Klobuchar being the goddamn prosecutor putting their criminals in prisons for so many years.

via Jesse Poppe.

February 21, 2007

Ellison, Not You Too. . .

Here we are, literally 22 months before the election, and new Congressman Keith Ellison is already doubling down on his favorite horse:

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said on Tuesday that he is backing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in his campaign for president. "Not because he's black," said Ellison, who is black. "That's identity politics. I reject identity politics.

"He speaks with a unifying spirit," Ellison said.

Speaking to a Black History Month lunch-hour event for about 100 employees at Star Tribune headquarters in Minneapolis, Ellison said he supports Obama's message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.

Well, at least he can certainly do a lot worse than Barack Obama.

January 18, 2007

Off Brand Somalis

If the Somali refugees are going to begin to operate in this city, can't they choose better names than Rough Tough Somalis, The Hot Boyz Gangs and The Somali Mafia? Come on, put some thought into it.

January 8, 2007

What The. . .!

The Strib has pulled one of my favorite comics from the comics page, 9 Chickweed Lane, and replacing it with a cartoon of (surprise!) some precocious kid who likes to annoy adults. I guess the sensual artwork and the gay relationship in Chickweed proved too much for the moral scolds, so out it goes. It's too bad, because it was a good one too:

chickweed27330500070108.jpg

Meanwhile the all-around terrible Mallard Fillmore gets to stay (BTW, does anyone else think it's in poor taste that the comic drawn by a guy just arrested for drunk driving is now featuring a weeklong theme where the title character appears with what seems to be a mug of beer in his hand?)

January 5, 2007

Drunken Sailors at the U.

What's appropriate to go with a $40 million dollar increase to a $300 million eyesore that will host about six events out of a year? More money for a coach who will oversee the continued failure of the Gopher's football program:

On the day the University of Minnesota approved spending an additional $40 million on its new on-campus football stadium, school President Robert Bruininks said money will not be an issue in the search for a new coach.

Despite the increased pricetag for the stadium and a $4 million combined buyout owed to ousted football coach Glen Mason and men's basketball coach Dan Monson, Bruininks said he assured Athletic Director Joel Maturi that he will commit the financial resources to hire a "first-rate" coach.

It's just maddening, after going through years upon years of crippling tuition increases, seeing the General College and College of Human Ecology close down, and other places like the Community University Health Clinic face a 17 percent spending cut, that they would spend all kinds of money so that "student athletes" and their rich patrons can get their goddamn playgrounds. That stadium better generate the revenue to wash the university with money so it doesn't have to cut money on education, or else I can't be held responsible for what I'd do next.

January 3, 2007

Three Cents To The Twenty

Shane from The Greet Machine was kind enough to buy two copies of the movie Cars within three days of each other from a Knollwood Target. He was also kind enough to post the reciepts. The price of the movies were still the same, but he had to pay more on the new year so some millionaire fatcat can have his billion-dollar sandlot (yes, with inflation and future costs, the ballpark WILL cost a billion dollars at least). Once again, thanx a lot Minnesota Legislators!