February 28, 2006

34%

Not gloating, just informing. Because that's what it's all about.

Posted by smit2174 at 2:15 AM

Dayton: not a lame duck

Good to see Mark Dayton isn't wasting his dwindling time in the Senate. From the NY Times:

The issue is among those likely to be debated on Tuesday, when the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration meets to draft changes to the lobbying law. Senator Mark Dayton, Democrat of Minnesota and a member of the rules committee, is furious with Mr. [John] Thune [(R-SD)] over the rail project, and intends to propose language imposing a two-year ban on lawmakers' getting "personally and substantially" involved in matters affecting former clients.

"This makes some of the Jack Abramoff deals look like penny ante," said Mr. Dayton, who has a prominent constituent, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., that is fighting the rail expansion. "It's the most despicable special-interest deal I've ever seen in all my 30 years in government."

What's he angry about?

As a lobbyist in 2003 and 2004, Mr. Thune earned $220,000 from the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, a small but ambitious company in South Dakota. The railroad hopes to rebuild and rehabilitate 1,300 miles of track, the nation's largest proposed railroad expansion in more than a century.

Now, as a junior senator from South Dakota, Mr. Thune is working to make that happen [...]

Last year, his first in the Senate, Mr. Thune wrote language into a transportation bill expanding the pot of federal loan money for small railroads, enabling his former client to apply for $2.5 billion in government financing for its project. The loan has yet to be approved; Mr. Thune said he was trying to promote economic development in his home state.

Sounds pretty bad. I mean, it's par for the course for the GOP, but this seems especially blatant. Personally, I think a two-year ban is far too little, but it's a start, at least.

The Dems need to hammer the Repubs on ethics, and keep up the pressure. Since he's not running for re-election, Mark Dayton's got nothing to lose by going after this type of thing hard. I say they shut down the Senate until America gets a real debate on ethics reform.

P.S.: What has Normie been doing all this time? Grandstanding (with hilarious crony-on-crony results!) ... abusing the public trust ... and the public in general ... but let's not forget, he's great at leading prayer breakfasts.

2 more years, buddy.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:34 AM

February 27, 2006

Time change for Gubernatorial debate!

Apparently, they went and changed the times for tomorrow's DFL Governor's Debate. Here are the real details:

Tuesday, Feb. 28th, from 7-9 PM in the Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union (in the basement.)

Becky Lourey, Steve Kelley, and Kelly Doran will be in attendance.

I wish I had a digital camera so I could post a pic of the amazing dinosaur-themed advertisement Melissa and I chalked on the sidewalk near Ford Hall. Trust me, it's awesome. Go see for yourself... before it's too late.

OK, see you at the debate!

Posted by smit2174 at 8:35 PM

February 24, 2006

Piling on South Dakota

Well, we're sitting in Alex's spore-filled apartment, still waiting for our dummy chauffeurs to Iowa who are friggin' hours late, or something. I thought I would just post this gem, from TBogg, on the dude who passed the recent law banning abortion in South Dakota. His name is Brock L. Greenfield, and he is a SD state senator and director of South Dakota Right to Life. I hate to pull out the "red-staters are hicks" cliche, but this guy seems to have made it his life goal to conform to the stereotype:

As for Mr. Greenfield:

Background Information
Gender: Male
Family: Single.
Birth date: 10/05/1975
Birthplace: Watertown, SD
Home City: Clark, SD
Religion: Protestant

Education:
BS, Northern State University, 1999.

Professional Experience:
Baseball Coach, City of Clark & Clark American Legion, 2002-present
Substitute Teacher, Clark School & Doland School, 2002-present
Attendant, Greenfield's Short Stop, 1992-present.

It would appear that Greenfield's Short Stop, is a convenience store.

Greenfield's Shortstop
431 1st Ave E
605-532-3799

Not to be elitist or anything, but... if you're going to make political decisions that will profoundly affect others' lives-- the ban contains no exemption for cases of rape or incest-- shouldn't you have a little better experience than working as a gas station attendant, substitute teacher, and baseball coach? I didn't realize it was that bad in South Dakota. Truly all their talent has left for sunnier climes. I like TBogg's explanation for the SD abortion law: they're "seeking to populate a barren state."

Posted by smit2174 at 4:02 PM

February 23, 2006

Fun stuff

I will be taking a temporary hiatus (don't worry, it's just for the weekend) from this blog as I travel to Iowa State to visit some friends. When I get back, I'll hopefully get time to finally wrap up my thoughts on Steve Kelley and Becky Lourey in time for the caucuses. I'll hopefully also do a post or two on the gubernatorial debate-- which, BTW, is happening next Tuesday, Feb. 28th, from 8-10 PM in the President's Room in Coffman. Steve Kelley, Becky Lourey, and Kelly Doran will be there. (Random side note: I had a weird dream last night in which Mike Hatch was a long-haired hippie. It didn't look like him at all, either, yet it was completely believable. WTF?)

Anyway, I figured I'd make this a fun post, highlighting some great (and not-so-great) things I've found on the internet. If you're bored, here ya go.

*Check this out: William Shatner's take on Hamlet
*Continuing the Star Trek theme, here's Leonard Nimoy's hobbit-themed music video.
*Horrible, but extremely funny, TV show concept. I do not condone the graveyard scene at all.
*I just have to throw something political in here, for old times' sake. Wonder if Abramoff's feelings are hurt?
*Support Max and Monica for MSA Prez/VP
*Watch the new video from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Gold Lion"... I predict this song will be big. Karen looks completely insane in this video-- she reminds me of the robot girl from Metropolis, if anyone's ever seen that. [Try watching it here if you want better sound quality.]

Have a great weekend.

Posted by smit2174 at 4:59 PM

February 21, 2006

Devin Davis


The internet is great. I discovered Devin Davis after hearing his "Cannons at the Courthouse" played on KEXP, the great public radio station in Seattle. As soon as I got home from work, I looked him up on Rhapsody, and after hearing only a few of his songs I knew I had to buy his record. It's called Lonely People of the World, Unite!, and it has quickly become one of my favorite albums.

Davis is an artist from Chicago who recorded this short (under 40 minutes) but amazing collection in his basement over the course of a couple of years. He plays nearly all of the instruments himself (from the album liner: "vocals, guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, organ, piano, percussion, theremin, trumpet, trombone, giant gong [ed.: (!)]"). And these aren't wussy Sufjan banjos or strings, either (not that those are bad!)-- Mr. Davis really rocks out on this album. Case in point: as the instant classic "Iron Woman" builds to its climax, a blistering tenor solo gives way to a mean electric guitar lick and a trumpet/trombone/sax outro.

No song on this record is bad, but since "brevity is the soul of wit," I'll just point out some of my favorites. The aforementioned "Iron Woman" is an great, high-energy opener, telling the story of a modern-day "caveman" who is heartbroken when his "Viking girl" ditches him for some "high-society friends" and a "General's shiny stars": "Iron Woman, / Wrestle off all the rivets around your heart. / Iron Woman, / I can still draw your picture in the dark."

When I first heard "Cannons at the Courthouse," it reminded me of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945," with its fuzzy guitar-and-piano stomp and absurdist lyrics. The track packs so many twists and reverses into its 4:11 playing time, though, that it can't be accused of being a counterfeit. "Sandie" is similarly hard to classify, but it's basically a country-tinged power-pop ballad that builds to its climax with an "After the Gold Rush"-style French horn solo.

The album really hits its stride with the last three tracks. "Giant Spiders" combines a nuclear doomsday scenario ("If we're curled up into a little ball / Behind some thick lead walls / We should be fine, if we can survive the giant spiders") with an insanely catchy, cheerful chorus: "No, I won't sit still / 'til I'm upside-down in the back of your eyes." "The Choir Invisible" begins with simple acoustic guitar and organ, layers on an "invisible choir" of ooohs and sensitive power-ballad electric guitar, and fades out in a burst of fireworks. "Deserted Eyeland" similarly builds to a full, horn-laden arrangement reminiscent of the Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper, and closes the album on a note of hopeful melancholy. The speaker realizes that "We all live on a deserted island," finding community in his loneliness and echoing the imperative from "Giant Spiders" that gives the album its title: "Lonely people of the world, unite!"

In conclusion: get this album! Support Devin Davis by buying it through his own label, Mousse Records, here. It only costs a bit more than Amazon ($12 plus shipping in the U.S.), and you'll rest sounder knowing you supported a great independent voice in music. You might even get a personal note: my package contained a little, signed thank-you note from Mr. Davis that made me feel all warm and tingly inside. Who knows-- maybe it'll be worth something someday.

Links:
*Devin Davis' website
*Devin Davis on MySpace - there is a media player here that will let you stream album standouts "Giant Spiders," "Iron Woman," and "Cannons at the Courthouse." There are some mp3s available at his website.
*Pitchfork gave the album a 7.2 rating (out of 10)
*cokemachineglow's rave review

Thanks for listening.

Posted by smit2174 at 8:18 PM

Rock the Cauc(us): Be There

What: 3rd Annual Rock the Cauc(us), sponsored by U-DFL
When: Friday, March 3rd, 8 PM - 12 AM
Where: Manhattan Loft, 802 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis (near the corner of Washington and Oak on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota)
Cost: FREE

We're gonna have at least two great local bands playing (one is called Battle Royale, and the other I can't remember right now... but believe me, they are awesome. Or at least decent.) But the main draw is the candidates. We have nearly 10 state-wide candidates confirmed as of right now, and we are still working with more campaigns. Come hear the DFL candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senate speak and mingle with the crowd. Did I mention it's COMPLETELY FREE?!?! Oh yeah, I did. (You have to buy your own pizza, if you want any... but it's not too expensive.)

P.S. Free prizes!
P.P.S. More free prizes: coveted Arbitrary Points System points! (See sidebar for details.) If you are a reader of this blog, come to Rock the Cauc and you will win 100 APS points. Either find me at the event, or somehow prove you were there to claim your 100 points.

Posted by smit2174 at 4:54 PM

February 20, 2006

We get trackbacks


You know those blogs that have a lame "testimonials" section, either at the top of the main page (see figure 1.1, above... P.S. You suck, Hugh Hewitt) or on a separate link? Well, now that a plain picture is famous (and rightly so... j/k), I could put up a little testimonial of my own:

This dude is so right.
-jedmunds, of Pandagon (!!!) fame (referring to my previous post declaring them "Wankers of the Day")

You know, taken out of context, it doesn't sound half bad.

All joking aside, the folks at Pandagon are far from "wankers" and I have nothing but respect for their blog. Except for when they dis Oasis.

Posted by smit2174 at 1:24 AM

February 19, 2006

Wankers of the Day (aka the Oasis fanboy post)

This blog has survived more than a year without declaring a "wanker of the day." As it is a powerful derogatory term, I feel it is something that should be used sparingly (not daily, despite what the term implies.) That said, I feel I must stand up for my principles and declare Pandagon, a blog for which I have the utmost respect, the very first a plain picture Wankers of the Day:

The worst song in the history of music, nay, hearing, nay sound.

Wait for it…

Wait for it….

Wonderwall by OASIS! Heh heh, EAT IT JEDMUNDS!!

As a die-hard Oasis fan, I must object. No matter how bad, how musically derivative (even of their own previous work), how lyrically mindless and/or nonsensical, how filled with hubris and delusions of grandeur, everything by Oasis must be considered PURE GOLD. Yes, I agree that "Wonderwall" has been overplayed, and there are far better Oasis songs. (There are also far worse Oasis songs.) But declaring "Wonderwall" the worst song of all time is utter blasphemy. Please listen to the following playlist, handpicked by your humble servant, yours truly, and revel in the glory that is Oasis. Ride the B.O.A.T. (Best of All Time)

Acquiesce
Wonderwall
Digsy's Dinner
Stay Young
Live Forever
D'You Know What I Mean?
Cigarettes & Alcohol
Mucky Fingers
Gas Panic! [live]
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) [live, Neil Young cover]
Morning Glory
Slide Away
The Masterplan

Encore:

It's Getting Better (Man!!)

Some Might Say

Listen to this playlist in Rhapsody
Get Rhapsody for $2/month (if you are a U of M student.)

Posted by smit2174 at 1:24 PM

February 16, 2006

Ah, the good old days of AP English

I was just brushing my teeth and had an interesting revelation...

[Funny, isn't it, the illuminating power of brushing one's teeth? I highly recommend it... for those of you who don't brush, you should try it. It's fun! and good for you!]

This week is turning into 12th grade AP English redux. Last night and today comprised one of Lady Stip's trademark "nightmares of death and destruction," as I stayed up 'til 3 AM, then got up at 8:30, to finish a paper-- on a poem about death, no less. Then, as luck would have it, I had to spend the rest of the day (when I wasn't in class) prepping for a Russian test I wasn't prepared for at. all. (So why am I up right now at 2 AM? God only knows.)

And there were other parallels. First off, we're reading Hamlet in my Shakespeare class. It's a great play, and even better the second time around. Then, in my British Lit survey, we're reading (well, skimming, unfortunately) Tennyson, and one of the poems we're studying is the classic "Ulysses":

...Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

That last couplet has been quoted and analyzed so often it's become almost cliched, but it's lost none of its power since I first read it in the Perrine's poetry book. Tennyson is great. So are Keats and Wordsworth. I really need to read more of their stuff.

While we're on the subject, I don't miss high school all that much, but I do kind of miss the classes. I miss the days where you could sit down every day and talk about a book, or analyze a poem in real depth, rather than going to a lecture in which the professor tries to cram in so many texts and authors that we are unable to get down to the good stuff in any of them. Or going to a "discussion" section where 3/4 of the time is taken up by ridiculous quizzes, stupid procedural questions, and dumb-ass comments by people who don't know what they're talking about, and lukewarm responses from a TA who doesn't really care.

Posted by smit2174 at 1:56 AM

Chuck Norris, you let me down

When did Chuck Norris ascent to his current title as the king of ironic hipness begin? I'm not a devout student of this history, but I'd guess it started with his cameo in Dodgeball-- who can forget the classic, inspirational thumbs-up and Stiller's immortal line, "F***in' Chuck Norris"? Now, it seems, Mr. Norris is more popular than ever, mostly due to the Chuck Norris facts site. I'm sure you've seen it by now, as it's been the most quoted thing on the internet for quite some time. The quotes have grown stale through overuse, but you have to admit it was funny for a time. (One of my favorites: "Chuck Norris uses all seven letters in Scrabble... Every turn.") The "Walker lever" on Conan O'Brien's (mostly unfunny) show (you suck, Conan!) probably also helped raise his image in the public consciousness. This article in the Washington Post does a good job of summing up more reasons for Norris' popularity.

Now, I enjoy myself a good episode of Walker (and especially the theme song) as much as the next guy, but I don't know if I can hold Chuck Norris up as a sterling hero any longer. I read today that Mr. Norris celebrated Valentine's Day at the White House with George and Laura (for the record, so did Joe Lieberman, D?-CT), and it piqued my interest. I did some googling, and it turns out that Chuck and George are pretty tight:

Here is a picture of the good ol' boys in the good ol' days (before Enron, 9/11, Iraq, Social Security, Katrina, Plamegate, and Shotgun Dick), taken in 1997. Further research reveals that Mr. Norris has maxed out in his contributions to Bush a few times, and has given at least $32,225 in political donations since 1989-- all to Republicans. He must be close with the family; Chuck accompanied H.W. on his infamous sky-diving trip, and in this official WH press release from a 2004 campaign rally, G-Dubs gives a shout-out to "my friend Chuck Norris." I guess I don't begrudge Mr. Norris his right to have an opinion, and to exercise his quasi-constitutional right to corrupt the political process with vast sums of money, but it somehow hurts deep inside that a man who had seemed so good, so pure, and so invincible, could be so wrong on everything that is so important.

Remember that Walker episode where a high-school teacher is thrown off of a roof by a shop teacher/drug lord because he uncovers the guy's drug ring, and Walker steps in as principal to uncover the devastating truth (and deliver some devastating roundhouse kicks?) To encourage the kids to break their addiction to drugs and to identify the perpetrator of this horrific crime, Chuck brings in a few extremely muscular friends, the Power Team, members of an body-building/inspirational speaking squad, who perform amazing feats of strength involving fists, foreheads and piles of bricks. There is an inspirational moment where a man snaps a pair of handcuffs in two, and the crowd erupts in cheers. Chuck Norris, this could be you. Stand up and break the manacles of oppression, and you will be revered as much more than a washed-up martial arts star: you, too, can be a True American Hero.

Num-Chucks:
*An all-time classic video: two legends collide as Norris meets Danza on Danza's show. Danza reads Norris some quotes from the "facts" website.
*Chuck speaks out about the "facts":

“I’m aware of the made up declarations about me that have recently begun to appear on the Internet and in emails as “Chuck Norris facts.? I’ve seen some of them. Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. Being more a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s quite surprising. I do know that boys will be boys, and I neither take offense nor take these things too seriously. Who knows, maybe these made up one-liners will prompt young people to seek out the real facts as found in my recent autobiographical book, “Against All Odds?? They may even be interested enough to check out my novels set in the Old West, “The Justice Riders,? released this month. I’m very proud of these literary efforts.?

I'll put 'em on my reading list, Chuck.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:05 AM

February 15, 2006

Cheney's Most Dangerous Game?

Passed along without comment.

During Christmas vacation of 1974, my father flew us all to Disney World by route of Tampa, Florida. Ignorant of geography, it did not occur to me that Tampa was out of the way to Disney World until my father drove the rented van to the gates of MacDill Air Force Base. Military personnel met me there and escorted me into the base TOP SECRET high tech mind control conditioning facility for "behavioral modification" programming. This was the first in what became a routine series of mind control testing and/or programming sessions on government installations that I would endure throughout my Project Monarch victimization. [...] Dick Cheney, then White House Chief of Staff to President Ford, later Secretary of Defense to President George Bush, documented member of the Council on Foreign relations (CFR), and Presidential hopeful for 1996, was originally Wyoming's only Congressman. Dick Cheney was the reason my family had traveled to Wyoming where I endured yet another form of brutality -- his version of "A Most Dangerous Game," or human hunting. [...] Dick Cheney had an apparent addiction to the "thrill of the sport." He appeared obsessed with playing A Most Dangerous Game as a means of traumatizing mind control victims, as well as to satisfy his own perverse sexual kinks.

It gets worse...
Also, as TAPPED points out, this is potentially libelous stuff. If it's any testament to the legitimacy of the site, a prominent link leads to a section called "Dolphin Dreams Dream Catcherz," and another hawks a product called the "Novalite 3000™Tesla Photon Vibe Machine" which promises "vibrational healing." All I can say is, I didn't write it.

Posted by smit2174 at 2:53 AM

Get your freak blaze orange on

This is awesome.


From now on, at any of Cheney's public appearances, you are hereby instructed to wear blaze orange. Also, all instances of Cheney's name will be replaced with "Shotgun Dick," or another clever moniker of your choosing.

...but seriously, it's no laughing matter. The victim had a heart attack today. Wonder if he'll still be voting Republican after this one... [UPDATE: Yes, yes he will.]

Posted by smit2174 at 12:03 AM

February 12, 2006

Howard Dean: Psychic?

On national TV this morning, Howard Dean called Dick Cheney "Aaron Burr," referring to the disgraced former VP who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and was later tried for treason for his (alleged) crazy conspiracy to forge his own Southwestern empire. Dean said that, if the recent report that Cheney authorized "Scooter" Libby to leak classified information about Valerie Plame is true, he must step down-- in effect, he equated such an act with treason, which explains the Burr reference.

Well, a few hours later, we learned that Dick Cheney accidentally (allegedly) shot a man in Texas the other day (and covered it up for 24 hours), making him the first Vice President since Aaron Burr to shoot another person. In effect, Dean predicted the news. Coincidence? Or psychic??

More: Best headline and picture choice ever

Posted by smit2174 at 11:45 PM

February 8, 2006

Upcoming political events-- get informed!

We have some unique opportunities here at the U to learn more about the 2006 elections that are soon approaching. I guess I will just list them for convenience.

1. Sen. Becky Lourey will address the UDFL next Monday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 PM in Coffman 324. (Watch for the sign.) New members or interested parties are welcome!

2. The UDFL is also holding a gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, February 28th from 8-10 PM in the President's Room. We hope to have at least 3 candidates, if not all 4, there. It should be a lively discussion and a chance to see the candidates before the precinct caucuses.

3. We will also be sponsoring "Rock the Cauc(us)," an event that will combine performances by local bands with speeches and information from statewide candidates (or their representatives) running for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. See some free live music and meet the candidates in person to see what they're really like. "Rock the Cauc" will be taking place at the Manhattan Loft (near the corner of Oak and Washington on the East Bank) from 8 PM - 12 AM on Friday, March 3. It was a good time last year, and with 2006 a "real" (*sarcasm*) election year, it should be fun again.

4. Don't forget about the PRECINCT CAUCUSES, Tuesday, March 7! There's no better way to have your voice heard by the party. You could even become a delegate to the state convention, which is a surefire ticket to wealth and fame. Here is a brochure about the caucuses, with helpful "jargon" section and details. DYK: Under state law, you can miss work or school to attend the precinct caucuses with a written notice at least 10 days before they occur.

Pick your party...
Caucus information: DFL / GOP / Independence
*there is no Green Party precinct caucus I'm aware of, but I'll link to their site anyway, in the interest of fairness.

Thanks for listening. This was supposed to be my Steve Kelley wrap-up post, but it turned into something else entirely. So that will still have to wait.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:25 AM

February 7, 2006

To celebrate the Grammies...

I've posted a new comic at shiftyeyes comics, in tribute...sort of... to Grammy nominee 50 Cent. Check it out!

Posted by smit2174 at 6:14 PM

More Steve Kelley: Kelley on the Issues

As promised, I'll continue with another installment of my Steve Kelley piece from yesterday, this time focusing on what he had to say about the issues:

1. Education. Since he is the chair of the Senate Ed. Committee, Mr. Kelley is understandably focused on education. On education policy, he wants to focus on early childhood investment. We shouldn't cut childcare, ECFE, and other programs for the critical ages of 3-6 years. He believes that every child should come to kindergarten ready to learn.

He also spoke on the need for getting high schoolers ready for college, and improving funding so everyone can afford to go without amassing huge amounts of debt. He reminisced about the time when students could attend the U and graduate with little or no debt; today, the average student (nationally, among those with bachelor degrees) graduates with $18,900 in student loans. (Sorry, I couldn't find the figure for the U of M specifically, though it is probably a bit lower since it is a public school.) [UPDATE: I just found this article in today's Pioneer Press which reveals that "a typical undergraduate on the Twin Cities campus who borrowed money for school, took five years to finish and graduated in spring left with nearly $26,000 in debt." Wow.]

Talking specifically about the U of M, Kelley said that the Governor must be the chief advocate for the Twin Cities campus, and stated his committment to providing enough resources for the U. He pointed out that all Minnesotans benefit from the research done here and the public outreach that the U does, so the burden shouldn't be placed entirely on students. He dismissed the idea, espoused recently by some, for a "high-tuition, high-aid" plan at schools that would tie funding for schools to the number of students. (Read Rep. Joe Opatz' response to this plan from a couple of years ago for a good overview of this plan and why it's shortsighted.)

2. Health care reform. Sen. Kelley supports universal healthcare! He said that he is "tired of waiting for the federal government" to address the issue of skyrocketing medical costs, and that it is time for the states to step up on their own. Kelley proposes joining forces with the business community, which is concerned about ever-increasing medical bills eating into their bottom lines, and the direct providers (the hospitals, doctors, etc.), who recognize that the system is broken both for them and for their patients. Kelley endorsed the Minnesota Medical Association's outline for moving towards universal coverage. Check out their press release, which provides a nice summary of their recommendations, here. From their full report:

For most of the last decade or more, policymakers have tried to ensure universal "access" to care – meaning insurance is available for those who can afford it, and emergency care is available even if you don’t have insurance. [...] The task force concluded that universal access will never get us to a fundamentally more effective and efficient system. The task force advocates a return to what was once law in Minnesota, but was regrettably repealed – a commitment to achieve universal coverage. Minnesota needs a system in which all residents have continuous coverage for services necessary for the preservation and restoration of health and function. The current system, which rewards cost avoidance on the part of insurers and insulates consumers from the cost of the care and the consequences of behaviors, cannot be maintained.

He didn't go into specifics, but it seemed Kelley's plan would involve having every citizen pay into a central health plan, with subsidies for those of lesser means. When asked about the job loss that such a plan is projected to create (presumably on the administrative side-- HMO's, etc.), he didn't try to dispute the allegation. Rather, he said that the weight of the business community and the direct providers would be able to overcome the resistance of the healthcare industry.

3. Transportation. Sen. Kelley didn't speak extensively on his plan for roads and outstate Minnesota, though he did mention the importance of passing a workable transportation bill that would include funding for repairing roads and increasing transportation safety throughout the state. He does have more details about this on his website.

He did talk about a plan to extend light rail coverage expansively throughout the Twin Cities, and also outside the immediate metro area (presumably to places like St. Cloud... I doubt people are going to be commuting from Duluth or Alexandria.) To him, light rail makes sense in an era of rising energy prices, since rail has lower operating costs than bus transit. If we make the investment in infrastructure now, we will be able to use electricity generated by wind power to run the trains, which would be a boon to outstate producers.

4. Immigration. In response to a question about Pawlenty's election-year fear-mongering on immigration, Kelley didn't give a clear response on how he would deal with the issue. However, he stressed that the U.S. Constitution specifically places the responsibility for regulating immigration under federal control, so it's really a non-issue.

Read more on Steve Kelley's official positions here.

I will post more at some point on some interesting political tidbits I gleaned from Sen. Kelley's talk, so be watching for that. In the meantime, you could check out this podcast interview with Mr. Kelley from Inside Minnesota Politics, if you so desire.

Posted by smit2174 at 4:39 PM

February 6, 2006

Sen. Steve Kelley @ UDFL Meeting (part one)

State senator Steve Kelley (D-Hopkins) spoke at our UDFL meeting today. I scrawled a bunch of notes on a piece of campaign literature, and I will now attempt to decipher them and translate them into Legible English. (As some of you know, I unfortunately never mastered Legible English. I am, however, fluent in an obscure dialect of Chickenscratch that makes my writing nearly incomprehensible to pretty much anyone who sees it. Although, I must say, my handwriting is not as bad as my dad's, IMHO.) Well, here goes:

First, Mr. Kelley outlined his background. You can read about it here, on Steve's campaign website (which is somewhat confusing to navigate and read. He might want to work on that.) He has been an active member of the Democratic party since 1980, when he attended his first caucus.

Having chaired the Senate Education Committee for the past 3 years, Mr. Kelley says he was motivated to run by his disgust with Gov. Pawlenty's education plans, which included support for "intelligent design;" school vouchers that would, in Kelley's words, "undercut public education;" and Cheri Pearson Yecke. He believes that Pawlenty has "painted [himself] into a right-wing corner" by, among other things, vetoing the bipartisan transportation bill and by cutting 30,000 Minnesotans from the health-care rolls. He also intends to make issue of the property tax hikes that many Minnesotans have experienced in the past few years, which he asserts was caused by Pawlenty's irresponsible "No. New. Taxes. (...but 'fees' are OK)" pledge. Cuts to Local Government Aid forced local governments to levy additional property taxes to fund essential services like fire and police protection, and failing to meet the needs of the schools forced districts to propose additional levies.

Kelley's platform, basically, is... well, I guess I will have to sum it up in another post, because I've run out of time. Check back later, or tomorrow, or next week, or something, to read about Kelley on the Issues and some other interesting tidbits he discussed. Also, next week at UDFL, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate (Sen. Becky Lourey) will be in attendance. Come to Coffman 326 (or wherever the signs point to) at 5:30 Monday to hear her speak.

Posted by smit2174 at 7:00 PM

February 5, 2006

Coloring Contest: Sam's entry

I have the honor to present to you a modern masterpiece of MSPaint coloring, cunningly entitled The Circle of Death. Props to Sam.

Once again, here are the previous entries:



by Pat


by Melissa

Remember, the deadline for entries is February 28th.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:59 PM

February 2, 2006

Coloring contest-- now with points! / Brian's entry

So, the new Arbitrary Points System is well underway, with the first 202.06 points going to my bro Sam. Congrats. I will get the "honor roll," as it were, up sometime this weekend (hopefully.)

In an effort to increase the amount of entries, I've decided to up the ante for the Coloring Contest. Any entries sent in before February 28th, 2006 will be eligible for the Grand Prize of 1,000 points! The entries will be examined by a select panel, one that may or may not include celebrity judges, that will select the winner. Other prizes may be awarded, as well (arbitrarily, of course.) You haven't got anything to lose, though: any entry will get you at least 1 point! Send your entries to: smit2174 /-at-/ umn (-dot-) edu and I will post them on the site.

We've also gotten another submission (actually, we got it more than a month ago... sorry.) This one's from Brian, who blogs at Knowledge. Check it out, and leave comments if you so desire.
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Here are the previous entries, in case you've forgotten...

by Pat


by Melissa

Go to it! Send those entries in!

Posted by smit2174 at 11:32 PM

NEW! ...Introducing the innovative Arbitrary Points System (APS)

Full disclosure: I stole borrowed this idea from Brian over at Knowledge, though, to my knowledge (heh. heh.) he hasn't proposed anything like this... in fact, it may be unprecedented in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD! I'm friggin' Napoleon, byatches!

... OK, probably not. But it still sounds cool.

Basically, my idea is to sporadically post a "mission." It could be a question, random piece of trivia, quiz, contest, task, quest; each mission will be assigned an arbitrary number of points. The victor (ie, the fastest to post the correct answer, or the winner of a contest, or the ) will collect the points. I will keep track of standings, with a running total, in the sidebar of a plain picture. For instance, suppose I declare, "Bring me the skin of the Nemean Lion. The first to do so will get 19,000 points." Hercules brings me the pelt, so I award him the requisite number of points and post his name in the sidebar. (As if eternal glory wasn't enough.)

What do you think? It sounds interesting. Maybe it will be one of those ideas that I think is really great, but soon gets discarded in favor of newer, flashier things... because, as we all know, "Nothing, storm or flood, must get in the way of our need for light and ever more and brighter light. The truth is the light and light is the truth." In fact, that's your first assignment... name the author and title, and you get the first 202.06 points. Post your answer in the comments.

Posted by smit2174 at 6:37 PM