Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Friday Link for 5/27/16

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Memory is a great thing, and for this Friday link, I'd be remiss if I didn't embrace Samantha Bee's sensational two part history course on the birth of the far right Evangelicals.  In these two pieces, she reminded us they started more with racism than anything else, and only got involved with abortion after a conference call round table.  That should tell you about their moral compass.

Warning - a lot of adult content!

Have a great Memorial Day everyone.  New shows on Tuesday!

The Great Train Robbery

I've put some thought this week to when exactly the Minnesota GOP became infatuated with stopping light rail train expansion.  I pegged it to when the original Hiawatha Line was authorized, and the Minnesota Republicans all screamed about empty trains, wasted tax dollars and government boondoggles, only to have a lot of egg on their face when the line ended up being wildly popular.  But to be fair, former Governor Tim Pawlenty signed off on the bonding bill which funded the University Ave. expansion in 2008.  My guess is Republican Speaker of the Minnesota House Kurt Daudt, Republican House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin and the rest of the MNGOP insist that was one of T-Paw's weak moments.

The Twin Cities metro area, 16th largest in the country, NEEDS an effective well thought out mass transportation system, which consists of more than just buses.  Every major, successful metropolitan area in the world has some sort of rail line system.  The Twin Cities used to have an incredible street car line which could get you from Stillwater to Lake Minnetonka in 1900(!).  Sadly, like in many metro areas, corporate interests bought up the street car lines in the 30's and 40's, and ran them into the ground.  I remember when they were tearing up Minnetonka Blvd. in the 90's, and underneath the layers of asphalt was a beautiful brick road with rail lines running down the middle of them.  Sadly, they ripped them up in the name of advancement.

The next expansion, the Southwest Light Rail Line, or SWLRT, has been pursued for a few years.  One of the largest problems with this expansion is it didn't follow a pre-existing roadway, but rather cut a swath through the suburbs, partially on an old train line/modern bike trail, but in other places cutting through virgin territory.  To the surprise of many, myself included, a lot of people came together to try to make this happen, including the wealthier suburbs and conservative business leaders.  With federal financing in place, 92% of SWLRT was funded.  All the state needed to put forward to get a 2 billion dollar light rail line built was $135 million dollars, a small sum for a state with a $900 million dollar budget surplus.  Regardless of what party you identify with, finding the funding to finish a major infrastructure program of this size, at that price, should have been a no brainer.  Then came the MN House Republicans.

The same people who made unemployed Iron Range workers wait three months, and a few corporate welfare handouts, to get expanded unemployment funds out of the state's solvent unemployment fund account, insisted they would NEVER fund another light rail line.  The Minnesota Republicans have ignored the financial reports, ridership analysis, and jammed pack train cars to insist, "no one ever rides light rail."  They ignored the communities screaming for them, far right business groups highlighting light rail's corporate benefits and Minnesota Department of Transportation reports touting the benefits for existing car traffic.  And most inexcusably, they ignored the largest benefit; in the realm of spending for major projects, you'll never get another sweetheart deal like this.  The Republicans put their fingers in their ears, closed their eyes and screamed "we can't hear you, we can't hear you!"

There was always hope.  To get the a bonding bill passed in Minnesota, you need super majorities in both chambers, which means 8 Democrats in the House and a substantial amount of Democrats in the Democratically controlled Minnesota Senate.  And let's not forget the signature of Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat.  Compromise means the GOP had to give in on some Democrat demands, and SWLRT was a big one, but the MNGOP still waited until the final two days to get serious about compromise.

The following is not speculation, but what we know happened:

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk went to Speaker Daudt and insisted a SWLRT compromise had to be in the bonding bill.  Since the MNGOP was completely against funding the paltry $135 million, he put forward language which would allow Hennepin County Rail to expand their portion of the funding, taking it away from the state coffers.  Bakk said to Daudt it had to be in the bill.  House Minority Leader Paul Thissen was there at this meeting, and Daudt agreed to put the funding shift into the bonding bill.

At some point afterwards, Daudt, Peppin and/or other Republicans pulled the language out of the bill, without mentioning it to the Democrats.

In the last hours of the Minnesota Legislature 2016, time was of the essence.  They had to have all major bills passed by midnight of the last day of session, which happened to be Sunday, May 22nd.

Late on the 22nd, the House quickly threw out the bonding bill and demanded a vote without much review by the public or the House members.  It passed and went up to the Minnesota Senate.  Senator Ron Latz, who represents one of the districts the SWLRT would travel through, immediately looked for the funding deferment language.  It wasn't there.  For whatever reason, the compromise Daudt had agreed to was omitted from the bill.  Latz made a quick amendment to include the agreed upon language, the Senate passed the bill and sent it back to the House with fifteen minutes for approval.

Initial reports gave the impression the innocent House Republicans were betrayed.  Daudt and Peppin were insisting, out of no where, a never discussed SWLRT amendment, funding the entire light rail line from state funds was added, brazenly by Latz and Senate Democrats.  They said, since time was up, they sadly bowed their heads and gaveled the House to closure.

The truth is much harsher on the Republicans.  Not only was the amendment the agreed to verbiage from Daudt, language which didn't fund the SWLRT from state coffers, but allowed Hennepin County to do so, but the bill, with the proper amendments and paperwork, actually did make it back to the Minnesota House with plenty of time to get a final vote.  Two House Democrats say the bill was on the House floor.  Speaker Daudt saw it, waved off the amended bill, and gave the signal to Joyce Peppin to gavel the House to closure, even though they could've easily had a vote.

It's clear the House Republican's game plan was either sneak the bonding bill though the Senate without the promised language in it, something they did with shocking effect on other bills in 2015, or they'd get caught, which they did, act as if they were the innocent victims, gavel the House to a close and campaign on, "Democrats want to force all rural Minnesotan's to sell every personal item they have, including the grandfather clock, just so every minority in the Twin Cities can have their own personal light rail line!!!"

Kurt Daudt and the Republicans constantly lied this session, and this one incident features about six.  The Twin Cities metro area is 3.5 million people, in a state with 5.5 million, but the GOP consistently win by putting out well crafted talking point pablum about rural America, with no intent on ever following through on their promises (broadband anyone?). Republicans are so against light rail, they can't see the forest for the tress.  Light rail trains are popular.  When you factor in their advertising, they make money, and they dramatically help traffic patterns on pre existing roads.  AND IT WAS 92% PAID FOR!!!  Nope, they decided this was the hill they were going to die on, selling it to their loyal followers with empty claims of wanting to fund roads and bridges first, even though their transportation bill didn't have funding for roads and bridges.

The media should also be ashamed.  I have the equivalent of a tech school journalism degree, and I was able to find the truth about this.  Instead of reporting Republican talking points and Twitter posts as fact, or throwing your hands in the air when it gets pointed out you reported the wrong truth, do your damn job!

Meanwhile the Twin Cities metro area continues to grow and grow and grow, and the road
traffic in the Twin Cities keeps getting worse and worse and worse...

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Friday Link for 5/20/16

It's May.  I have three kids.  I'm tired.  I'm exhausted.  I have a day full of baseball games I need to be at tomorrow.  I'm making this simple and getting back to watching my Twins get their cabooses handed to them.

CollegeHumor is a fun site, but they do use a lot of adult language.  Viewer be warned!

This is about the cleanest version of their If Google Was A Guy series:

Of course the plea for you to subscribe at the end is FULL of a certain word.  You've been warned...

When Your Facebook Thread Gets Hijacked is one I really appreciate.  It happens a lot of the station social media.  Random tea bagger dude sees anything they deem enemy material and it's far right manifesto away!

Warning once again, these guys like the salty language and adult situations.  Doesn't mean it's not funny, but it's not for the kiddos.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Day the Minnesota Republicans Actually Gave Up

Wednesday, May 18th.  That was the day the Minnesota Republican Party said, "F- it!"

This has been coming for awhile, since election night 2014.  On that night, Republicans captured the Minnesota House, even though the Minnesota Democrats had done nothing wrong, outside of turning Tim Pawlenty's deteriorating economy around.  Republicans, screaming about government spending on the new MN Senate office building, and making false claims about Democrats not being concerned about outstate Minnesota, rode a wave of Democratic voter malaise to their only win in Minnesota in 2014, the House.

Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt sent an immediate message by not showing up at Governor Mark Dayton's swearing in ceremony; "I'm petty, small and will treat Democrats as my sworn enemy."  Initially he actually had some success with this strategy, by expertly exploiting his friendship with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a man who personally despised Governor Dayton.  The Republicans were able to control over half of the legislation which came out of the MN Congress in 2015, getting rid of the State Auditor, waging a war on the environment and encouraging dark money spending in elections.  They even openly mocked Governor Dayton during the special session.

One problem the MN GOP had in 2015 was their unwillingness to deliver to outstate Minnesota, specifically their promise to bring broadband internet to the state.  Instead, they made a stand for only one city to get it, Annandale.  This immediately started to sour the voting pool in rural Minnesota (well, outside of Annandale), something which has been compounded in 2016, as Daudt and his cronies have only allotted 20 million dollars for outstate broadband this year, something which will take at least 200 million to start.

In early 2016, Kurt Daudt and the MN Republicans had a cataclysmic screw up with Minnesota's unemployed Iron Range workers, something I detailed in the post '17'.  Daudt held up aid for them by demanding any special session for Iron Range workers must include massive corporate handouts.  After a special session was taken off the table, Daudt lied about helping the outstate workers on day 1 of session, demanding corporate tax breaks first.  Not only did his antics further poison out state voters to the GOP brand, it torpedoed his relationship with Senator Bakk, a man who represents the Iron Range.  Any chance of a repeat of the 2015 backroom buddy deal was doomed.

As the 2016 session rolled on, the Republicans admitted they wanted to starve out the general fund, the main source of funding for many state programs, and further angered outstate Minnesota with their reluctance to produce a bonding bill for 2016.  Add in the insane, far right calls for crotch cops, some sort of genital monitoring force to make sure transgender people are not going into bathrooms which don't correspond with their birth gender, something they've been doing in Minnesota, without incident, for decades, and the Minnesota Republican platform began crumbling, being exposed as an "only in it for ourselves" used car sales pitch.

On top of that, there wasn't a senate race in Minnesota for 2016, so the ticket would be anchored primarily by the Presidential race, and the US House races in Minnesota.  Minnesota Republicans watched in horror as they saw their first Presidential choice, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, withdraw, followed by their second choice, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, leaving reality show host and bloviated argument against capitalism Donald Trump as their date for the big dance.  It might be okay in a state like Idaho or Mississippi, but not in dependably blue Minnesota.  And the US House races in Minnesota were not adding much zing.  Not only could they not get legitimate Republicans to run against Democrats Peterson (MN-07) and Walz (MN-01) in right leaning districts, they couldn't find anyone to take on Nolan in MN-08, outside of 'soundly trounced in 2014' Stewart Mills, Terri Bonoff, a moderate Republican disguised as a Democrat, is scaring the crap out of Republican Paulsen in MN-03, and with the retirement of Republican Kline in MN-02, their endorsed candidate is Jason Lewis, a extreme misogynist, far right radio host who thinks slavery was okay.  A report out, yesterday, May 18th, stated the Republicans might end up with only one House seat in Minnesota (MN-06) something which hasn't happened since 1890.  By the way, considering an extreme far right islamophobe is getting ready to challenge Emmer in the MN-06 GOP primary, don't count that seat just yet!

That was the beginning of the bad news for Republicans yesterday.  They finally put out their bonding bill, the bill which is designed for special state projects, usually filled with government pork for all, but instead it was a wish list for Republican districts only, with Rep. Joyce Peppin really raking in the taxpayer gravy.  What's strange is they need Democrats to vote with them, 8 in total if all Republican's vote in unison, as bonding bills need a 60% majority for passage.  Talking with House Minority Leader Paul Thissen yesterday, he confirmed Speaker Daudt hadn't attempted to contact him to see how they could secure eight Democratic votes, and they didn't appear to have struck any personal deals with individual Democrats.  And there's no way the Democratic Senate would pass a House Republican wish list anyway, let alone Governor Dayton signing it without his very clearly stated demands in the bill.  It's seems they've given up on bonding (FYI - Shocker! The GOP House Bonding Bill failed to pass today, the 19th).

Yesterday also seems to have signaled the end of the Transportation Bill too.  House Republicans put forward a disingenuous proposal which has extremely questionable funding, and in a state where over 3/5 of the residents live in the Twin Cities metro area, it has very little for metro area roads and ZERO for metro area transit initiatives.  Senator Bakk, after meeting yesterday with the Governor, reiterated there will be no Transportation Bill without metro area transit included.  With Daudt's personal hatred of mass transit, little will get passed this session.  This means Republicans have a ballot full of dead fish, and they'll likely have a very limited legislative record to run on.

Is the GOP tanking 2016? "We know this is going to be a bad year, so we'll let the worst happen and see where the chips fall in November."  Then came the insanity cherry on top of the May 18th sundae.

Michelle MacDonald is the former GOP candidate for MN Supreme Court.  Her run in 2014 was very interesting, considering she admitted to having personal legal problems after winning the nomination, had an epic stand off with the Republicans at their State Fair booth that August, and was firmly trounced in the election, in what was a big year for conservatives.  But that was before Grazinni-Rucki.  Sandra Grazini-Rucki was a client of hers who was losing a custody battle with her husband.  She had claimed abuse by her ex, a claim the courts shot down.  One day, two of his girls mysteriously disappeared, leaving no trace of where they were, and a panicked father looking for clues.  Sandra never seemed too worried.  After the reporter Michael Brodkorb had a discussion with people close to the divorce case, he realized something was up.  He started to investigate the case, which lead to a sharper look being given by law enforcement.

Eventually the two girls were found.  On the day they disappeared, Sandra alleged rode with the girls to Michelle MacDonald's campaign manager, Dede Evavold's house, in St. Cloud.  Reminder, Michelle MacDonald was Sandra's lawyer, so it 's quite possible MacDonald could have been involved too.  From Evavold's House, the girls were hidden on a horse farm in western Minnesota where they seem to have been kept as child labor, part of some sketchy 'wronged parents who want revenge on their ex's so they hide the kids' underground railroad.  There's VERY real potential MacDonald could be charged, something which should've warned off any Minnesota Republican Party consideration.

Last night, the Republican Judicial Committee recommended Michelle MacDonald as their candidate for the 2016 MN Supreme Court race.


This is crazy, one of the most reckless political decisions I've ever seen!  MacDonald was a bad choice before the Grazinni-Rucki debacle, actually damaging the GOP chances in 2014.  For God's sake, she still had Dede Evavold listed as her campaign manager this morning!  This decision to resurrect her for 2016 has emboldened her, with her now saying she'll run even if the GOP withdraws their endorsement.  It's like the GOP Judiciary Committee nominated her out of spite, but I'm not quite sure for who:  the people who didn't vote for MacDonald in 2014, or for the Republicans who say "we're smarter than that."  The Judiciary Committee disagrees, saying "no we're not!" There are too many people in the Republican Party living by the original Tea Party mantra of 'I'd rather lose with the Republican I like, than win with the Republican I hate.' Realizing they're outnumbered, the traditional Republicans are putting their hands the air, or rather their middle fingers, and saying "F- you world!"

When I see the MN GOP, I see a political party screaming, "we give up." If you come across a Republican politician in Minnesota, be careful.  I get the feeling they're angry, ready to go off, and looking for a bottle of booze to crawl into until 2018.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Similar But Unequal

The other day I saw a news story where some ignorant farmer near Mankato had put up a "Trump that B----" political sign, which encouraged the Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, to defeat the potential Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, only using a far more crude, vulgar vocabulary.  The sign was on the side of a public highway, visible for all, including kids.  The farmer didn't originate this slogan, rather he copied it.  This is a common slogan already being pushed at GOP and Trump rallies, readily available on t-shirts, bumper stickers and signs.  Clearly, the farmer placing it on the side of the road was his attempt to further validate this slogan into mainstream culture.

The 'B' word for a woman should never be a mainstream acceptable term.  The fact certain elements of the right want to make it mainstream, in reference to a likely President of the United States, is incredibly disturbing, an unwanted view into their misogynist psyche, a simpleton's rationale for why they really hate Hillary Clinton.

I went up on Facebook and ranted against this, saying "you don't have to like her, but I think you can voice your discontent without degrading women..."  Later that day, a friend of mine brought to my attention some graffiti sprayed on a building in the Twin Cities, where the sentiment was to "Rape Trump."  Now 'Rape Trump' is a horrible statement, and it has no place in mainstream culture either, but there was an unintentional meaning to her pointing out the 'Rape Trump' graffiti:  both sides do it.

Here's the problem.  This wasn't equal.  Some knucklehead spray painting 'Rape Trump' on the side of an already graffiti covered building is wrong, but it's not multiple corporations sitting down to consider products for their political line, coming up with, or mimicking, the vile 'Trump that B---' slogan, creating multiple design ideas, running it through approval meetings, going to print with it, distributing it, selling it wholesale to vendors, who then proudly display it at pro-Trump events, while giddy Trump supporters count their coins, asking, "do you have it in an infant onesie?"  Yes they're both bad, but one is FAR worse.  If this was just some ignorant farmer, I wouldn't have brought it up.  This is corporate fueled sexism, and to imply a kid with a can of spray paint is just as bad wildly diminishes how out of line the entire 'Trump that B---' mantra really is.

A little girl who steals a five cent piece of candy has committed a crime.  So has an axe murderer who killed 10 people.  These two things are not equal, but imagine anytime we talked about a crime, the severity of the offense, the context, was taken out of the situation.  Then yes, Little Susie would be no better then the Crazy Lumberjack Killer.  But because we have a brain, we can look at these two separate incidents and see clear differences.

Conservatives started taking context out of the equation years ago.  Without context, they realized they could downplay their own indiscretions by implying their axe murders were nothing more than shoplifters, and they could make their opponents shoplifting into an axe murder.  Today when someone points out something conservatives are doing wrong, the usual Republican course of action is to find any minor indiscretion the other side is guilty of, and insist 'both sides do it,' walking away, acting as if it was a draw.

Example - when Bill Clinton was having an affair with an intern, the Republican Party was outraged!  They acted as if this was the first affair, EVER, talking about how the office had been permanently disgraced.  I could talk about the two Republican Speakers of the House, who, while screaming about their moral outrage, were both having affairs in between press conferences, but I'll focus instead on the third Republican Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, who was guilty of raping young boys.  With Hastert's recent sentencing to prison, I mentioned how bad it was, and a conservative friend screamed, "well, both sides do it!"  Both sides did not have a House Speaker rape young boys, or have multiple Speakers of the House committing affairs, or were they vilifying all gays and lesbians while they themselves were under the leadership of a pedophile (Oh, and by the way - not the first pedophile the GOP has harbored!). Only one side did, yours!

I posted a few years back about my sister-in-law dismissing former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family having a drunken street brawl in Wasilla, Alaska with a 'both sides do it,' something which made me lose my mind.  President Obama's kids are vilified by the media for an eye roll, but are equated with a shirtless Track Palin swearing at the neighbors who just kicked his ass for being a a drunken jerk, while his sister is jumping on another man's head in her own drunken rage, because 'both sides do it.'

The removal of context has affected how we evaluate things in society.  If you're an African American, and you resist arrest, get into a shoving match or smoke marijuana, politicians and the media will try to validate the instantaneous death sentence ruling against you.  They'll always fault the African American whenever an African American is gunned down.  They'll turn young black men into axe murderers in an attempt to validate the after the fact lethal force that was never justified.  Meanwhile, a white kid kills some people while driving drunk?  He's an innocent victim, only shoplifting candy, suffering from affluenza, the curse of having too much money.  He gets to go home with a finger wagging, so we can get back to the real bad guy, the dead black one, who had skittles and an ice tea, and who smoked a joint once.  Context matters.  By removing it you can validate anything, including systemic racism.

Two more examples.  Benghazi was a tragedy.  Four dead Americans after an embassy attack, but the GOP has painted it as this country's greatest diplomatic error, worthy of countless investigations and years of hearings.  To follow the Republican narrative, you have to ignore this attack was not unique, as our embassies are attacked regularly, usually with a much larger loss of life.  I'm not saying what happened in Benghazi was good, but it surely doesn't warrant the level of attention the GOP has placed on it, something they've done purely for political reasons.  When you bring up a far larger foreign policy blunder, like the W. Bush Administration initially saying Iraq was involved with 9/11 (they weren't), then changing their story, insisting Iraq was trying to get weapons of mass destruction (another lie) as the justification of going to war with them, a war which cost 5000 American lives, tens of thousands of permanently wounded Americans, and trillions of US taxpayer dollars, all while obscenely increasing the profit margins of the corporate friends of Bush and Vice President Cheney, their first response; "Hillary Clinton voted for it.  Both sides did it, so there is no need to ask any more questions!"  Yes Hillary voted for it, but only after being outright lied to by the Administration, who created a series of dog and pony shows to prevent the truth from being discovered prior to troops being put on the ground, and labeled anyone who didn't vote for it of being responsible for 9/11.  Context places Benghazi into it's rightful place, while spotlighting our incredible failure in investigating the false justifications for the Iraq War, an investigation we still owe the brave men and women who died in combat.  Clinton was Little Susie.  Bush and Cheney were the Crazy Lumberjack Killers.

How about e-mails!  Hillary Clinton does have a bit of a problem with the e-mail platforms she was using, and how she handled certain intelligence, but nothing seems too outrageous, at least not yet.  This seems more like an attempt to get access to her e-mails, a fishing expedition akin to discovering the President had an affair while investigating him for an Arkansas land deal.  I find this new found concern about e-mails from the GOP funny, as they themselves didn't even question the intentional deletion of tens of millions of e-mails by the W. Administration, a task which must have required a staff of 100 or so working around the clock for a year to accomplish.  They wiped every computer, both sending and receiving, and all servers, both sending and receiving.  That's amazing!  When you point this out to Republicans, they'll diminish the Bush administration actions while at the same time insisting Hillary is a criminal.  I'll hold my final judgment on Clinton until the investigation is over, but there is no way these two e-mail discretions are equal.  The Bush Administration's was FAR worse.

'Both sides do it' is ignorance for convenience sake.  You either say it because you don't want to think about what the one side could be up to, or you say it to prevent from having to admit your side was wrong.  When someone says it, ask yourself if context is part of the equation.  Usually, it's not.

For the record, most of the time, both sides DON'T do it.

The Friday Link for 5/13/16

So I bust my caboose on redoing the floor and on the second piece of furniture I move back in, I scratch it...(grrrr)...

Same excuse as last time; May is too busy for me.  I do have another post I hope to finish off tonight, and then maybe something on Sunday.

A little fun and a little sadness tonight.  First, in case you haven't seen it, a brilliant man put a petition up on to replace right wing St. Paul Pioneer Press Columnist Joe Soucheray with a potato.  Well written and a worthwhile cause.  Please click the link and enjoy!

Souchy petition!

For the rest of the Friday Link, I'm going to repost the links to the unedited interview Jon Stewart did with former New York Times Columnist, and foil of the Bush administration, Judith Miller.  I'd forgotten about this until I had my memory jogged by my upcoming blog piece on 'both sides do it.'  Watching Stewart make her squirm is so rewarding but it doesn't make up for any of it.  We still need a full, unrestricted investigation into what happened.  I'm afraid we never will.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sexy Liberal 2016

Here are some photos from the Sexy Liberal show in Minneapolis from the Pantages Theater on Saturday night, the 7th!

Pantages is a gorgeous theater.  They had me open the show.  Fun!

Let's start with Stephanie Miller.  She's a great liberal talk show host, probably the most popular one in the country.  She came up with the Sexy Liberal Tour idea years ago and it worked  Liberal politicians doing sets with politics as the theme.  The crowds ate it up, as there isn't enough of this sort of thing. Here are some shots of her backstage and performing.

John Fugelsang is a regular on this tour and one of my heroes. He did something no other liberal had the guts to do; take the religious teachings the conservative right in their country had usurped, manipulated, changed, and deformed, so they could club their political opponents on the head with fake piety, and ripped it back, quoting the Bible, verbatim, to prove that Jesus, and the teachings of Christianity, have a lot more to do with liberal politics than Reaganomics.  When I've taken his lead, and used religious scripture to counterpoint conservatives, they have no idea what to do.  They usually call me a liar, and/or run away.  Great to see him back in Minnesota.

The third member of this tour was Frangela, a comedy team who was making their first appearance on the tour.  They were great.  My one photo backstage with them didn't come out, so here they are performing.

They then do a Q&A session at the end, where they take political and personal questions from the audience.  It's a great touch, turning it from a comedy show to more of a group hug town hall.

Robin Asbell is a great chef and friend.  Her cookbooks are fantastic.  She personally caters these shows, and it's delicious.

Always fun to see the listeners (hi Jackie!):

Especially Kendall, who came up from Iowa.  We met the first Sexy Liberal I attended.

Rounded up the evening with a stop out to First Avenue.  Here's hoping they return to the Twin Cities soon.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Friday Link for 5/6/16

So tonight...who am I kidding!  I'm mailing it in.  

As I mentioned before, May sucks for my family.  We are constantly running around, but this Friday night, the schedule took a break.  I had an evening without sports, music or a class project to worry about.  I could actually do something fun with the kids! 

I went out to the Minnesota Arboretum tonight to go see the beautiful flowering trees with my daughters.  If you've not seen them when they're in full bloom, it is one of the most spectacular color displays nature produces.

But I get the feeling many of you have seen them, as clearly most of you were at the Arboretum this evening.

Right past Paisley Park, the traffic started.  We left our house at 5:20, and at 6:45, we were still in traffic, about 300 yards from the entrance.  We were thinking there must've been a very serious accident on the road, as traffic which isn't moving at all isn't normal.  Nope!  Just a million people trying to get out to see the flowers.  Realizing we were still an hour from actually seeing anything, we turned around, visited Paisley Park (my third time!  Worth the visit !), grabbed some dinner and went home.  We got back in at 8:25.

I like the Arboretum and all, but this makes me want to burn my Membership Card.  The heck with you, beautiful flowers.

To Colbert!  First something quite blasphemous!  I was laughing so hard about God's reaction at learning Trump was the GOP nominee, it woke up my entire family.  It's pretty gutsy, but, as a Catholic, I thought it was a hoot!

And here's his take on the North Carolina Bathroom Bill.  His line at the end says it all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Tribe Has Spoken...

Last night, Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President of the United States, for the 2016 election cycle.

Dear Lord!  Even the next day, writing the first sentence seems unreal.  Last night, he was crowned the champion when Ted Cruz was voted out of the tribe by Indiana.  Trump's conquest was greeted with cheers from the racist, dim-witted morons who think they can punch their way into the White House, and gasps from the Republican establishment who are terrified of Trump calling Hillary the "c" word during a debate, while he talks about, in detail, her husband staining a certain blue dress in the 90's.  The non-Trump right is looking around, nervously averting eye contact, trying to put a positive spin on this.  "At least it's not Cruz." Wow...just WOW!

Smart money people know Trump won't win, but even if he did, he's not controllable like W., McCain, or Romney.  This morning, Republicans are coming to grips with this reality; the Presidency in 2016 is lost.  Where I think this dramatically hurts the GOP, it's likely not the end of them, as a game plan is currently being hatched to try to resurrect the party by 2020.

This morning, May 4th, frantic conference calls are taking place.  Conservative wealthy individuals who guide US presidential elections are currently diverting money away from Trump and the Presidential race, and into US House and Senate races, not just campaign donations, but all the PAC, special interest and dark money too.  Like battlefield surgery, they're preparing to cut off limbs to try to save the body.

If the Democrats get control of the White House, the US House and get a filibuster proof majority in the US Senate, an outcome becoming more possible by the day, conservatives will be in big trouble.  After 6 years of GOP nothingness, all in an attempt to rob the first African American President of any legacy, they've unintentionally trapped themselves.  If a Democratic majority passes legislation, even minor bills, they'll be able to claim, "at least we can get things done."  Conservatives only hope for 2016 is to hold enough seats to maintain the logjam.  Then in 2018, they'll insist the Democrats are no better than they were.

The 2016 Senate races are about to become obscene affairs, with spending levels never witnessed.  House seats, like the ones in MN-02 and MN-03, will get massive money dumps too.  The Right is no longer trying to pick up seats in 2016, but is hunkering down, boarding up the windows, allowing Hurricane Trump to pass, hoping their house will stand and they can maintain a majority.

Even in state races, game plans are being rewritten.  In Minnesota, where the Republicans are desperate to hold the MN House, the option of not passing anything this session is now off the table.  They have to figure out a way to pass (at least) a Transportation and a Bonding Bill, just so they have something to campaign on.   If they go into November with Trump at the top of the ticket and nothing to show locally, the Left will run away with Minnesota.

If they win, the Democrats will have a leg up for the next two election cycles.  The GOP could try the 1993/94 strategy, standing up at every bill, screaming how it will destroy the country, but they'll be neutered by the Democrats doing something the GOP has had no interest in doing, passing legislation.  If the GOP can somehow hold just enough, with every Republican voting in unison, it might backfire too, but it at least allows them to prevent the Democrats from looking competent.

Conservative money people are also coming to grips with the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.  They'll have to spend an obscene amount of money in 2018 to take back the House and/or the Senate, and even more two years later.  2020 becomes monumental for the GOP.  With 2020 being a census year election, they'll have to win in state after state to maintain the gerrymandered districts which give them the tilted US House.  2020 will become a referendum on how "the Democrats have failed us and they should be replaced, with Paul Ryan."  With the current dumpster fire which is the nomination process for the Republicans, where the worst of America chooses their standard bearer, good luck with that!

Mark my words, phone calls are being made, conference calls are being scheduled, money is being transferred and ad campaigns are being designed to discourage Democrats from voting, all in a last ditch attempt to prevent the Republican's torch from being permanently extinguished.