Monday, May 31, 2010

Proud to be an American

On Memorial Day this year, I walked in the Golden Valley Memorial Day parade with the Boy Scouts (I am an Assistant Scoutmaster in my son's troop). The parade had a small-town feel to it: just a one-and-a-half mile stroll down Golden Valley Road on a picture-perfect morning, lined with American flags (hundreds of them, according to the city), past homes and the country club (and a few foursomes already on the fairway) before reaching the strip malls and city center at Winnetka Avenue.

One jocular resident remarked that by the size of the crowd at the end of the parade (probably several hundred), "there must be no one left in town, they're all here." Parade units and onlookers alike gathered in front of a temporary podium under a warming sun, waiting for the program to begin.

The program had all of the elements of a proper Memorial Day observance. The weather was perfect. The Armstrong High School band and choir played and sang. The mayor read a proclamation. Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups read the honor roll of their members who had passed away since Memorial Day last year. Many youth groups attended: the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, ROTC groups. An Air Force brigadier general told a harrowing combat story to capture the importance of remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The dead were honored with a three-round volley, Taps, and a wreath was laid to the playing of bagpipes. The proceedings were opened with an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and The Star Spangled Banner, and closed with a benediction. And in a truly small-town gesture, the grilled hot dogs, chips, and pop were free (take one of each please).

There was the usual panoply of elected officials and political candidates on the dais, but there was almost no campaign activity (save for a sole Emmer for Governor volunteer). The focus was on honoring the military dead, POW-MIAs, and active duty military and veterans, and expressing gratitude for their service.

So you see there are places left in America, even in the liberal-progressive Twin Cities, where the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, and God Bless America is sung, without irony; where they pray for peace and acknowledge the cold reality of war without demonizing the military; where people understand that freedom is not free; where citizens of all ages can gather to celebrate and preserve what we agree on as Americans.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The MOB rules at Keegan's

During last night's ideal summer-like evening at Keegan's Irish Pub in near Northeast Minneapolis, the trivia questions were especially obscure, but the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers emerged from behind their screens and keyboards to christen Keegan's new, improved deck out back with $2.75 pints of the refreshing Sam Adams Summer Ale, bar food, a few cigars, the Yankees-Twins game on a shiny new TV, and the standard, lively banter that one has come to expect at a MOB gathering, even with some of the stars of the MOB galaxy missing in action.

The conversations at my table, between trivia questions, centered around the various state campaigns. The gubernatorial endorsement battle between former state Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and the eventual endorsee Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delnao) reportedly got too heated for Seifert's comfort, even with his campaign slinging most of the arrows. The consensus on DFL gubernatorial hopeful Matt Entenza's pick for lieutenant governor, Robyne Robinson, is that it's a primary election play against Mark Dayton's money and the Margaret Anderson Kelliher-John Gunyou ticket. The new WIN Minnesota PAC will apply some big money to try to put a Democrat in the governor's office.

There was optimism that Secretary of State candidate Dan Severson can defeat incumbent Mark Ritchie with an urgent call for voter ID and election integrity, although the liberal 527 Secretary of State Project will be a force to be reckoned with. And yes, SD43 state Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) is "beatable" in this November's election, even with her incumbency, union endorsements, and "Republican lite" persona facing the center-right leaning district. Several MOBsters present said they have been impressed by Bonoff's Republican-endorsed challenger, Norann Dillon, tirelessly working the district for months already, meeting, greeting, listening, and refining her message.

Blogger and Northeast Minneapolis resident Barry Hickethier told us that he will appeal to disaffected independents, DFLers and Republicans in his bid to unseat SD59 Sen. Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Minneapolis).

The affable Mitch Berg of Shot in the Dark and AM 1280 The Patriot, sporting a sharp-looking black Shot in the Dark t-shirt, received props for his recent blog post on the mythical relationship between local government aid and property taxes. Berg anticipates the next MOB gathering for late summer after primary election day on August 10, and before the State Fair.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

HD43B endorses Brian Grogan

Brian GroganWednesday evening, Republicans in House District 43B endorsed Brian Grogan on the first ballot to challenge Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) this November, in a special endorsing convention called after the previously-endorsed Kathy Dettman suddenly dropped out of the race due to "unforseen medical circumstances."

Grogan promised to fight at the Legislature for smaller and more efficient government, a business-friendly climate, K-12 education, and individual liberty. He sees the residents of HD43B as center-right politically, and therefore sees himself in a good position to unseat Benson. He also cited his existing campaign infrastructure, supporters, and experience from his 2008 challenge of Benson as resources to help him begin his campaign immediately.

I was honored to give the nominating speech for Grogan, for the second time (the first was at the regular SD43 convention in February).

With the endorsement of Grogan for 43B, SD43 has a full slate of candidates for the Legislature: Rep. Sarah Anderson will defend her House seat in 43A, while Norann Dillon will challenge Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka).

Norann DillonDillon announced her campaign kickoff event for 1:30 pm this Saturday, May 15, at the Parker's Lake Park pavilion in Plymouth. At last night's convention, Dillon announced that she will have some conservative star power for her event: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN3), making good on his stated promise at the SD43 convention to campaign for local Republican candidates; taxpayer watchdog and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson; former gubernatorial candidate and KTLK-FM personality Sue Jeffers; and Tea Party Patriots Minnesota President Toni Backdahl.

Republican-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State Dan Severson promoted election integrity via photo ID as a common sense, cost-effective solution to combat voter fraud. Severson, a current House member, is frustrated by current Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's unwillingness to investigate allegations of voter fraud, which has disenfranchised thousands of legal voters in Minnesota. Severson will make a persuasive case to the voters against Ritchie.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, running for re-election this year, touted reductions in crime and increased public safety on his watch. I have met and heard Sheriff Stanek speak at a few events like this. I am thankful that we have a dedicated lawman like Stanek on our side to protect Hennepin county from the bad guys.

Republican Party of Minnesota field staff, and Tom Emmer for Governor and Stanek campaign workers were also present at the HD43B event.