Monday, June 30, 2008

Strib: drill here, drill now, pay less

Well, they wouldn't quite go all the way to ANWR, but it was still refreshing for the Star Tribune, like Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), to take one step toward the center on the question of increasing domestic exploration for and production of fossil fuels. Excerpts from the Sunday editorial:
While there are good reasons ANWR should remain off limits, there are also good reasons to reconsider the nation's offshore oil deposits, where drilling and exploration have long been banned thanks to a 1982 congressional moratorium and a 1990 executive order by President George H.W. Bush. Off-limits coastal areas are estimated by the U.S. Department of the Interior to hold close to 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil, as well as substantial supplies of natural gas. By some estimates, the oil available is the equivalent of about a decade's worth of U.S. oil production -- not enough to end import dependence but enough to smooth the nation's transition to renewable fuels.

Much has changed since the 1982 moratorium. Though some environmental advocates dispute this, drilling technology has advanced over the past quarter-century. Oil companies can drill more efficiently in deeper water with significantly less risk to the environment...exploring these coastal areas could have an immediate impact at the pump. Just the possibility that domestic oil supplies are expanding likely would deter speculators, sending prices down.

As a nation, we must push forward to a future in which clean, renewable energy fuels cars and heats homes. But there's a long way to go. In the meantime, breaking the backs of consumers and industry still dependent on fossil fuels is unacceptable. Relief is needed.

I enjoy biking, camping, hiking, and canoeing, and I believe that we are called to be good stewards of the earth. The marketplace will greatly reward the entrepreneurs who bring alternative energy products to market. It will happen, but in the meantime, our economy will be crippled if we fail to make use of the rich resources that lie right now beneath our feet. And that would be a bad thing for the whole earth.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Frank Weir (1935-2008)

Frank Weir (photo: 3rd CD Republicans)
From the 3rd Congressional District Republicans:
We sadly report that our dear friend, Frank Weir, Former Chair of SD 43, passed away on June 21st. He is survived by his wonderful wife Anne, and their two daughters, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Frank was not only a Republican community leader but lived and believed in community service. During his lifetime Frank served on school boards, Rotary, Plymouth Planning Commission, Peace Lutheran Church committees, and was a volunteer fireman and policeman. Frank will be sadly missed by all of us. Our sorrow is strengthened knowing that Frank is now at peace.

Service is Wednesday, 11 AM at the Peace Lutheran Church, 3695 Country Road 101, Plymouth, MN 55446. Visitation Tuesday 5-8 pm and 1 hour prior to service on Wednesday at the church.

Frank Weir was there when I attended my first SD 43 precinct caucus, through good years and bad, always with an easy smile. Although he missed this year's precinct caucus while in the hospital after his "farewell" trip back east where he was from, he was there at Erik Paulsen's kick-off rally, with his usual smile like nothing happened. At this year's Hennepin County endorsing convention, Frank was honored by the Third Congressional District Executive Committee for his years of party service.

It's difficult to imagine this year's election cycle without Frank, but I'm sure he would have an equally difficult time understanding why: he would just want us to get on with winning elections.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Behind closed doors

After the pundits at the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce's June 6 panel discussion (at the Doubletree Park Place hotel in St. Louis Park) generally agreed that "a lot got done" at this year's legislative session, they also agreed on a less sanguine development:
"The lack of transparency in the process I think is very, very unfortunate," [Taxpayers League of Minnesota president Phil] Krinkie said.

Added moderator Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television, "I have never been a part of a more angry and frustrated press corps. There was extreme anger and frustration about how much happened behind closed doors."

Lahammer said the governor's press secretary accused her of stalking Pawlenty after she took a picture of him through a window as negotiations progressed.

"No governor gives a rip" if the press corps is upset, [Politics In Minnesota publisher Sarah] Janecek responded, although she agreed, "It really is amazing because everything really did get decided behind closed doors."

Media-driven, backroom politics has come to Minnesota, said panelist Blois Olson, executive vice president of public relations firm Tunheim Partners and a DFL commentator.

("TwinWest panelists consider politics in Minnesota," Sun Newspapers, June 13, 2008)

Laws and sausages are made behind closed doors for a reason. Some persons become vegetarians after touring a meat packing plant. I'm guessing that the rest of the story about this year's session won't be revealed until after November, if at all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sex and The City: a fairy tale

At one point in the Sex and the City movie, Carrie reads a Cinderella story book to Lily, the young daughter of Harry and Charlotte. At the end, Carrie points out that Cinderella is not real life, it's just a fairy tale.

Likewise, I hope that parents are pointing out to their daughters that Sex and The City is not real life, it's just a fairy tale. The movie, like the rest of our increasingly porno-fied culture, portrays a female fantasy of glamour, beauty, wealth, big city, bright lights, and fabulous, carefree sex without even a hint of birth control or sexually-transmitted consequences.

The reality of free-for-all sex, reported by the Centers for Disease Control in March, is that twenty-six percent of females between the ages of 13 and 19 in the United States has at least one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some of the more disheartening findings of the study prove that these ain't your mother's STDs:
  • The most common STI was cancer- and genital wart-associated HPV (18.3%), followed by chlamydia (3.9%), trichomoniasis (2.5%), and HSV-2 (1.9%). Among the teenage girls who had an STI, 15 percent had more than one.
  • By race, African American teenage girls had the highest prevalence, with an overall STI prevalence of 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both whites and Mexican Americans. (Other Hispanics and race/ethnic populations were captured in the survey, but there were insufficient numbers in any one group to permit valid prevalence estimates for any group except Mexican Americans.)
  • Overall, approximately half of all the teens in the study reported ever having had sex. Among these girls, the STI prevalence was 40 percent.
  • Even among girls reporting only one lifetime partner, one in five (20.4%) had at least one STI. Girls with three or more partners had a prevalence of over 50 percent. The predominant STI was HPV.

This isn't just a "women's health" issue, is a societal emergency. And that's no fairy tale.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fly the flag

George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton. Copyright 1970 20th Century Fox.Tomorrow, June 14, is Flag Day. If you don't fly your flag every day, be sure to display it tomorrow. Tomorrow would also be a great time to look over your flag and replace it if it is getting faded or worn out (flags can be recycled at your local VFW or American Legion post, and some Boy Scout troops or council offices). Go to for tips on proper handling and showing respect for our nation's colors — and by extension, our nation.

My dad told me that he always got choked up whenever he saw the flag of the United States. Growing up as the son of immigrants and serving in the Army under this flag during World War II taught him to love our country, even while the rest of his family and 110,000 other persons of Japanese ancestry were interned by the federal government by executive order. After the war, he didn't ask much from the government, he just finished college, went to work, raised a family, and flew the flag.

This story from pretty well sums up how the World War II generation feels about the flag:
My Grandfather was a glider infantryman in WWII, an advisor in Korea, and lost one of his sons, my uncle Gary Edwards, in Vietnam. I worked in his auto repair station during high school and he flew his flag in front daily. One day while I was sweeping the oil dry out of the bays it began to sprinkle rain. He told me to go get the flag and I said "gimme a second." He said, "It is raining, go get the flag NOW." Well I popped off my mouth about how he should cool it, it isn't going to melt or some such typical teenage comment.

My grandfather is the toughest man I've ever met. He explained once that he thought basic training was some sort of country club during WWII, because he was used to hard work anyway, and at home he didn't have indoor toilets or hot running water! And when I said whatever it was that I said to him, he turned deep crimson and I thought, "God save me, he's going to kill me for talking back." Instead tears welled up in his eyes and he squeaked out "You don't understand what this family has paid for the right to fly that flag." Then he turned his back on me and went out and got the flag. I just stood there feeling like the smallest person to ever live. Those words cut me so deep. I wish the entire country could have heard them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Calling all party animals

The Republican National Convention, September 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, needs a megawatt of volunteer power (about 10,000 persons) to provide what I would call visitor services: welcoming delegates at airports and hotels, assisting with transportation, supporting convention operations at the "X," providing guest services and other hosting activities at CivicFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Volunteers will receive required training and get an insider's view of the convention. Shifts are four to six hours long.

What will the ideal volunteers look like? Based on my past experience, they:
  • Are political junkies, anyone who has done campaign grunt work like walking parades, planting lawn signs, dropping campaign literature, smilin' and dailin' at a get-out-the-vote phone bank, door knocking

  • Enjoy volunteering at large events like festivals or hospitality connected to major sporting events (Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series, PGA Championship), Taste of Minnesota, large concerts like the Basilica Block Party, or any sort of national convention

  • Enjoy meeting new people from all over the country and sharing their hometown enthusiasm

  • Enjoy working hard, and are flexible enough to deal with the chaos and last-minute changes that are almost inevitable at events like this, even when they miss lunch, the cookies and bottled water run out at the volunteer center, and they've been standing all day

  • Enjoy wearing lanyards with ID badges, and bright colored t-shirts that say STAFF or VOLUNTEER, and saying "roger" or "ten-four" into walkie talkies

To join the party, go to

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Republican party, heal thyself

In spite of a good game face, the GOP faces some rough sledding on the way to November 2008. Some are already looking beyond this year's elections to some long-term rehab for the Republican party. An interesting article on this subject recently appeared on Politico, "Six ways the GOP can save itself," by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen. While it focuses on the national GOP, it contains some critical lessons for the Minnesota GOP as well.

1. Draft a contract with Minnesota. The standing platform of the MN GOP states principles, but has no accountability. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota's "no new taxes" pledge drew a line in the sand between fiscal liberals and conservatives, and gave the governor and legislators some backbone and a fiscal conscience for the tough choices during the legislative session. Today, Minnesota voters and activists need a broader statement of principles, modeled on Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, to identify the leaders of a conservative revival in Minnesota. If you won't sign the contract, OK, then we won't be signing any checks to your campaign. After the elections, the contract would be a compass constantly pointing legislators and the governor to true-north conservatism.

2. Fix the house. The Republican Party of Minnesota's voter and volunteer data bases are broken and so outdated that some candidates opt to create their own from scratch. As the Politico article says, "Influential Republicans feel the party must fortify intellectual think tanks, establish new activist groups and get a clue about using the Internet to rally its forces. The GOP also needs to fund programs to train young Republican candidates and activists." Some of this work has begun, but much work remains.

3. Find some fresh faces. Governor Tim Pawlenty was quoted in the Politico article, "We have to do a better job of recruiting women candidates, candidates of color and diversity." I think that we should judge people by content of their character, not by the color of their chromosomes, but the party actually has done a pretty good job finding and electing top-quality female candidates: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, State Auditor Pat Anderson, Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, and many incumbent state senators and representatives like Sen. Michelle Fischbach, Sen. Gen Olson, Sen. Julianne Ortman, Rep. Laura Brod, Rep. Sarah Anderson, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, and candidates like Barb Davis White and former Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson, and would-be gubernatorial endorsee Sue Jeffers. Identity politics aside, a more ethnically diverse slate of candidates would help to attract the attention of voters in traditionally strong-DFL constituencies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lieberman-Warner is the wrong answer

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." --Groucho Marx

Groucho perfectly describes the Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill, the so-called "cap-and-trade" bill being debated in the U.S. Senate. Global warming is a myth misdiagnosed (or misrepresented) as a global crisis, and Lieberman-Warner is the wrong remedy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is graphically keeping track of the hundreds of proposed mandates and regulations in the bill. Here is a current version (linked to a detailed description, where you can download the chart for a closer look):

This would be funny if it was just a parody out of Duck Soup, the 1933 Marx Brothers movie set in the fictional Freedonia, "the Land of the Spree, and the Home of the Knave." But if this bill passes, no one will be laughing.

For further analysis of the bill, visit the Basin Electric Power Cooperative "Better Solution" web site.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Grogan on the issues

Republicans in state House District 43B are pinning their hopes on endorsed candidate Brian Grogan to win the district, not just because the incumbent Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) has only a 25% rating on the Taxpayers League of Minnesota legislative scorecard, but also because every seat is crucial to help sustain Gov. Tim Pawlenty's vetoes of the worst DFL legislation, and help get a Republican agenda through the legislative process, to shape the quality of life in this state for generations to come!

I asked Brian to comment on some of his legislative prorities. Here is what he wrote:
I firmly believe that Minnesota's raising health care costs are more related to our current regulations than to insurance company pricing practices. We need to bring down the anti-competitive walls and remove the HMO regulatory exemptions established by the Minnesota legislature.

Educational funding and the inadequacies of it, especially within my district, are related more to current law than the need to raise taxes. Currently, the Minnesota legislature restricts how much of the property taxes we pay can be retained within our school districts. And, the Minnesota legislature feels the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts deserve a higher per pupil fee than the suburban schools. I support legislation that would readdress the current, disproportionate school district per student funding laws.

In regard to our environment on a state legislative level, it is important we are excellent stewards of our resources but let us make sure we are making legislative decisions based on concrete scientific evidence. For example the idea that wind or solar energy will ever be able to meet a significant amount of our energy needs is false and is misleading the public debate. It can be a good alternative resource especially for homes but it is not a viable source for manufacturing plants and other type of businesses which are the largest user of energy within the state. The idea that nuclear energy isn’t a viable option is erroneous-it is being used effectively in many European nations. The key to nuclear energy is addressing the nuclear waste issue and we can address it through effective tax incentives and laws. In addition, coal can be burned very efficiently, is cost effective and our nation has enormous supplies of it. And, we can address the pollution concerns through current technology while further eliminating our reliance on foreign oil.

Lastly, the idea that global warming is scientifically proven to be related to our carbon dioxide emissions has not been scientifically established. It is plausible but not proven. Our planet is definitely going through a climate change but its cause and long term certainty has not been scientifically explained nor certified. Our state has the ability to address our energy needs in an economically viable way but not by over regulating businesses or by forcing costly alternatives on consumers and businesses.

I will propose viable solutions and bring a new vision for health care, education, job creation and energy policy. A vision to reshape government, achieve greater economic security for our citizens and enhance our schools and businesses. My vision believes and understands that our local businesses and citizens are best at solving and offering solutions to the Government and it is the legislature’s responsibility to be responsive to those needs.