Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pork and good news

I've mentioned before the online efforts to curb pork spending from congress. Well, I just stumbled (h/t Instapundit) upon this list of MN congressional votes regarding pork. A number (19) of different amendments were recently offered to curb pork. This list is the number of yes votes given to support those amendments.

Gutknecht, R 17
Kline, R 12
Ramstad, R 18
McCollum, D 0
Sabo, D 0
Kennedy, R 17
Peterson, D 0
Oberstar, D 0

You might notice a pattern there. The congressional group is split evenly between Reps and Dems. The average score is Reps 16 - Dems 0. The next time someone suggests that Reps and Dems are the same when it comes to pork, just point them here.

Melting Pots and the part that just won't melt

Article in the Strib today about how the U.S. is becoming more diverse. The upshot of the article is that the more diverse it becomes, the more relaxed people tend to be about it. This agrees with what I've seen too. But the future isn't all that rosy,

Jenkins-Nelson noted that the pace of change varies by race, with Asians and Hispanics seeing more change than blacks.

She winced at any suggestion that the United States is becoming colorblind.

"Race is not a minor point for most people of color," she said. "It is what defines them from other people in this culture. We are so not there."

And that's the biggest sticking point to moving on. More and more white people (myself included) would love to move past race and judge people on individual merit. We embrace a colorblind system. But race continues to be the definition point for 'most people of color'. (I really really hope that the 'most' in that sentence isn't true.)

This country has moved far in race relations. The road has been bumpy and difficult, but it's moved. One of the largest obstacles left is convincing minority groups to drop the tribal belief that race is all encompassing and work to be recognized as individuals.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The coming Theocracy

Just ran across this article surveying a number of books that warn against turning the U.S. into a theocracy. Personally, I've never feared such a thing. Large sections of my friends and family belong to the 'religious right' and I've never had the slightest fear that they were (are) trying to establish any kind of Christian state.
Their biggest political fear is that religous people are being driven from the public square. As if having religous convictions is something shameful and should be hidden from view. The sad thing is that many people will believe that the numbers behind the Christian culture justify silencing them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Over at Althouse, I found an interesting discussion. Are liberals more creative/artistic than conservatives? It's certainly true that movies and music tend to be more liberal. The people who make them tend to be more liberal. Why?
I'll share my comment from the thread:
I think you find this same thing happening even on a local level. If you were to go to a community Ed art class, you'd be much more likely to find majority liberal crowd. The same thing is true of community theater. Don't really know why this is, but the easy answers like practicality, ability or rebellion don't really ring true to me. My theory is that liberals find being in touch with emotional things more important than conservatives do. They tend to see art as an emotional demonstration.
BTW, this may fit with Ann's remark. Great, longlasting art probably has more to do with eternal themes. Conservatives are more comfortable there.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Keith Ellison, again

I wrote the other day about Keith Ellison and the late filing problems. Today there is a letter in the STrib from his wife:
My husband, Keith Ellison, didn't want me to write this letter, but I feel a strong sense of responsibility for the recent criticism he has endured regarding the lateness of his campaign reports filing.

I was his campaign treasurer while he was running for the state House. I found the rules somewhat complicated and struggled to get the reports in on time. Keith was patient with me, but asked me to continue to do my best. I hoped that as time went on I would get better at filling out the reports on time. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

Then I learned that I was living with a chronic illness, multiple sclerosis. This helped me understand why I was having a tough time with getting things done. I didn't want to let Keith down by resigning, and I guess he didn't want to fire me either.

I'm writing because I know that Keith wasn't blowing off the campaign report deadlines. He was trying to bear with me, and I am sorry.


I'm not going to attack a woman with MS, but this explanation doesn't seem very complete to me. Would it keep someone from ignoring six or seven attempts at collection? Let me frankly admit my ignorance on the subject and give her the benefit of the doubt.

UPDATE: And then I ran into this on Powerline. It includes a more detailed explanation of how MS effected Mrs Ellison. Frankly, it sounds like a terrible situation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Hello, hello, is this thing on...

Ok, I've tried to get a sitemeter on this thing a couple of times and failed. If anyone is reading this, please leave a comment. Ranting to myself may be theraputic, but I'd like to be aware that I'm talking to myself.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Message in Full

There's a new comercial out from a Democratic group that can be found here. (In an effort to avoid unwanted emails, I provided a fake one.) There's been some criticism of the use of draped soldier's coffins but I don't really share it. I've got a very wide tolerance for letting people provide whatever political message they want to. Lots of people believe that our efforts in Iraq aren't worth risking the lives of soldiers. I disagree.
What amazes me is how empty the message is. The movie is a series of images of bad things (gas prices, hurricanes, dead soldiers) and then shots of Republicans (including a faked picture of Tom Delay). It concludes by showing prominent Democrats being nice to people and then a quote from Bill Clinton, "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America".
The message is simple. There are bad things in the world. Republicans are bad people and at fault for the bad things. Democrats are good people and will fix everything. That message on it's own isn't unique to the Dems. But it does nothing to fix their big problem. The elephant in the room is this, they aren't offering any solutions to those problems. Once again they are hoping that nothing will beat something. They are betting that the rest of the country shares the anger of the commited left.
A few months ago the safe bet was a Dem landslide in November. If I was to bet today, I'd say small pick ups from the GOP.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Keith Ellison and the art of being Obtuse

My district has been represented since the last Ice Age by Martin Sabo. He's retiring this year and leaving one of the safest Democratic seats in the nation open. The DFL has endorsed Keith Ellison for the spot. He has some issues. Amongst them a forgetful/procrastination streak that is truly amazing to behold. From the STrib:
Ellison this week came under fire for late payment of about 40 parking tickets, which resulted in suspension of his driver's license.
That seems like a lot to me. And even if his parking style is, um, unconventional, failing to pay them until his license is suspended is not so good. But not really that big a deal. But there's also the matter of a missed filing deadline:

Illustrative of the pattern is what transpired over a missed January 31, 2000, deadline for a report on the previous year.

The board sent a notice on Feb. 29, 2000, by certified mail to the Ellisons reminding them of the obligation to file the report. They failed to claim the certified mail, and the board then sent it by regular mail.

The board sent a second notice by certified mail on March 14, and, when it wasn't claimed, followed up with another notice by regular mail. A month later, a third round of reminders by certified and regular mail were sent.

In January and February of 2001, a full year later, the board notified the Ellisons by mail and by person of a summons to appear in Ramsey County District Court over a $100 late filing fee for missing the deadline. The Ellisons didn't respond, and the court in June 2001 issued a default judgment against them for $134, including costs.

A week later, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board sent a letter to the Ellisons saying it would turn the bill over to a collection agency for the Department of Revenue "unless you remit payment of $134 now." The board told them that the state could garnish wages, seize property, deduct from tax refunds and take other actions to collect the debt.

Seriously, that's quite a record. Granted it's not a large sum of money or a grevious sin, but I'd have to agree with Republican Mark Drake, "For Ellison, there's a clear repetitive pattern of not taking responsibility and blowing off basic rules governing conduct, with both the parking tickets and the campaign reports". I don't know if it's a deliberate thumbing of his nose or just incredibly poor management. Poor management would be the more confusing of the two. Presumably he has some kind of staff around to handle some of this stuff.
The really fun part of this has been the reaction on the STrib's letters page. My favorite one is here:
We just learned that Keith Ellison, DFL-endorsed candidate for the Fifth District U.S. House seat, has had parking tickets. Now we discover he has paid fines for filing his campaign-finance forms late. What's next? A secret addiction to Krispy Kreme doughnuts? It's difficult to attack Ellison's accomplishments: loving husband and father, well-regarded attorney, active state representative and refreshingly honest candidate.

That seems to meet the issue head on doesn't it? Forty unpaid parking tickets? Ignoring certified letters and meetings in person until they threaten to garnish wages? Why that's as bad as eating fatty doughnuts!
There are more serious reasons to look around for a better candidate than this but the attempts to rebut are incredibly weak.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Good news for me:
Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
Giuliani would be my first choice for President in '08. Maybe with Gingrich as a running mate? Would work for me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New York

The New York Supreme Court ruled that New York law doesn't allow gay marriage today. From what I've read they're completely correct. What's refreshing is that they didn't go looking for a reason to invalidate the laws. In fact they stuck up for the idea of deciding these types of things in the designed method.
Any change in the law would have to come from the state Legislature, Judge Robert Smith said.
What's interesting is what may happen next.
Plaintiff Regina Cicchetti said she was "devastated" by the ruling. But the Port Jervis resident said she and her partner of 36 years, Susan Zimmer, would fight on, probably by lobbying the Legislature for a change in the law.
I feel very badly for the plaintiff here. She's just wanting to be married to someone she loves. I can't imagine how gut-wrenching it must be to have something as personal as your (desired) marriage to be at the center of a heated debate. But that's exactly where gay marriage is. At the center of a heated debate. And it's much better to settle a debate in a legislative way than in a judicial way.
While tooling around tonight and reading opinions, I ran across this old post from Instapundit. The entire thing is worth a read, but this part is probably the most important.
Finally, in all of this I'm reminded of something one of the New Haven black panthers said on a radio show I produced back when I was producing radio shows. Looking back at their failures in 1970, he remarked: "Revolution is a process, not an event. It's not enough to agitate, you've got to inform and educate. And they didn't do that."
Supporters of gay marriage have mostly stayed away from inform or educating. They've relied on name calling and bad faith arguments. America is filled with good people. Convince them of your cause and they'll rally 'round you.


An op-ed in the Strib caught my eye today. It has to do with the Supreme Court decision last week regarding the Texas redistricting that helped Republicans to three additional house seats.
The Texas plan at issue in this case was unusual in one respect. Reapportionments normally take place only once every decade -- following the census. But Texas Republicans, after gaining control of the Legislature in 2003, decided there was no need to wait till 2010.
Republicans would answer that it took them an unfair amount of time to win the Legislature because of how well the Democrats had gerrymandered the state before them. And they're right to the extent that gerrymandering is a bi-partisan tactic. And what makes that so bad is that both parties are very good at it. The op-ed states that only five out of 392 incumbents lost in 2004 elections. Minnesota's switch from 5 DFL/3 GOP to four of each was seen as the effect of fair redistricting.
So what should we do? The Iowa plan is usually held up as a model. Their method is pretty good:
The centerpiece of the redistricting provisions are the redistricting principles which specifically forbid the use of political affiliation, previous election results, the addresses of incumbents, or any demographic information other than population.
They've also made a point of staying away from irregularly shaped counties. Which helps.

The sad truth is that gerrymandering is a bipartisan game. Another sad truth is that columnists only seem concerned when Republicans do it. I'd like to see the Iowa process copied around the nation. Let the chips fall where they may!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Women in politics

There's an editorial in the Strib today talking about the lack of elected women from Minnesota.

In the 20th century, Minnesota elected only one woman to Congress -- and, infamously, sent her home again when her husband, at the behest of her political opponents, publicly pleaded, "Coya, come home."
The editorial notes that another woman, Betty McCollum has been elected since. And with a probable Bachmann/Wetterling race this year a third one is likely. It also goes on to rate the likelyhood of other districs in electing women.
But it misses a very large point. Minnesotans will have no problem electing a woman to office - as long as they agree with her on the issues. Most women running for elective office have made the mistake of running as a 'women's candidate'. If you give the impression that you care only about 'women's issues' you immeadiatly tell men that their concerns are secondary at best. Give us a woman who seems concerned with a broad swath of issues and she'll be very electable.
The same thing holds true for minority candidates. I have zero doubt that a candidate of any color can be a good officeholder. But they need to convince me (and the broader public) that they care about more than just other people who happen to be of the same color.
The simple truth is that very large segments of society took MLK to heart when he talked about judging someone not by the color of their skin but by the content of their heart. I'd guess a large majority of Minnesotans have. If we have reason to believe that a candidate will represent our ideas and values we'll elect them.