5th District Candidates: Consistent

Mr. Sponge’s More Debate post @ Minvolved is a good read. Looks like everyone’s at least consistent – for better or worse:

  • Ember: I’m a woman, I’m not going to talk about my positions on Social Security and charter schools and I think of the children
  • Paul: I’m ethical, I lean to the side, I have a lot of gel in my hair and my campaign ratted out the guy standing next to me
  • Keith: I’m progressive and grassroots
  • Mike: Here’s what I’m going to do and here’s how I’m going to pay for it

Mindy Greiling Just Stopped By

Mindy Greiling, state rep for St. Anthony, Lauderdale, and Roseville, just stopped by to say ‘Hi’.

I was in the basement organizing my tool shop (more on that later) when she rang the doorbell. I’m glad I took a moment to meet her.

The 5th Congressional District Race from My Corner

A couple weeks back, the family and I checked out the St. Anthony Village VillageFest parade (How could we not?). Of course, the candidates for the 5th District were there – well…I shook hands with Ember Reichgott Junge (points for a cool sign and strong German name) and Mike Erlandson (points for Sabo endorsement). I don’t remember seeing Paul Ostrow or Keith Ellison in person (losing points), but their reps were there…I think.

Afterwards, reviewing their positions – read like more a race for who disliked Bush more. Listening to the MPR State Fair debate, they’re tripping over each other on who’s more progressive. At first glance, they all look very similar.

Here’s a quick comparison table highlighting their differences from what I gleaned in the MPR debate. Note, they all talk real fast, so some of the quoting might be off, and yea, most of it is “what I heard”.

Universal Healthcare:
Ellison: We need to stand up to the Healthcare “man” – that’s why we don’t have it yet.
Ember: The Healthcare industry controls the federal government – that’s why we haven’t had it yet.
Erlandson: Democrats need a financing mechanism for universal health care – that’s why we don’t have it yet.
Ostrow: Healthcare is a national issue, needs a national solution – that’s why we don’t have it yet.

Public Transit:
Ellison: We need to stand up to the oil and coal industries.
Ember: We need lots more light rail lines. It takes years for light rail to happen.
Erlandson: All public transit should be free. We can find creative ways to fund stadiums, we need to do the same for public transit.
Ostrow: Me too.

Foreign Policy:
Ellison: I supported the cease fire, before the cease fire was cool. “I’m for talking with people…even those you don’t agree with.”
Ember: The prerequisite of peace is disarmament.
Erlandson: Israel is the only democracy in that region – it has a right to defend itself.
Ostrow: Iraq is a war of lies. The US has no international credibility – we need to rebuild those relationships.

Crime & Safety:
Ellison: I’ve got more street cred than Mike Erlandson.
Ember: Early childhood education is the #1 way to prevent crime.
Erlandson: More education for 3 & 4 year olds. Invest in the neighborhoods and fund education. More cops on the streets.
Ostrow: Republican policies have gutted public safety. We should add serial numbers to bullet casings.

President George Bush:
Ellison: Impeach him – I’ll do it right now.
Ember: Investigate impeachment, Congress needs to get a backbone. Bush needs to be accountable.
Erlandson: Let’s not waste the next two years on impeachment, Let’s fix the financial problems caused by the Republicans. Bush can make a war abroad, but not a peace at home.
Ostrow: Congress needs to put a smackdown on Bush – across the board.

On Raising Federal Taxes…
Ellison: Federal taxes need to be re-appropriated.
Ember: Repeal federal tax breaks for most affluent.
Erlandson: Federal taxes need to be raised on most affluent.
Ostrow: Me too.

On Bringing the Troups Home
Ellison: “I’m the peace candidate.”
Ember: All troups out in 12 months.
Erlandson: Set a date to begin withdrawal, apologize to the rest of the world for Bush’s failed war.
Ostrow: Troops out now, we need an exit strategy.

Final Pitch
Ellison: Vote for me, I’m endorsed by the DFL, and all y’all can help me take down the “man”.
Ember: Vote for me, I don’t like Bush, and I’ve been in office for 18 years and I’m a woman.
Erlandson: Vote for me, I’m endorsed by Sabo and have worked in Washington with him.
Ostrow: Vote for me, I don’t like Bush.

For me, Ostrow and Ember lost this debate. The race is between Ellison and Erlandson. I like Erlandson’s jawline more and his endorsement by Sabo. Ellison seems a little feisty. At this point, I can’t tell what Ellison’s Talk vs. Walk ratio is, so I’m still sticking with Erlandson.

For a longer, even more in-depth and snarky analysis, talk to Mr. Sponge.

Support Free College Tuition for Minnesota’s Best Students

MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty floated a plan today that would provide high school students graduating within the top 25% of their class 2 free years of college tuition. For an additional 2 years, just major in math or science.

Education is on my list of things I think US citizens should ‘get for free’, so I give the plan a hearty,’Hell yeah!’

It’s a smart solution and all MN gubernatorial candidates should be supporting it. According the the Strib and Minvolved, this change means 15,000 students getting an education without looking at a decade of student loan bills (which jump 1.84 percentage points on July 1 – ouch).

Sure, making it free doesn’t eliminate costs – there’s still infrastructure costs, decent salaries for professors and staff, etc. So, there’s a conversation around how those costs will be met. The obvious answer is to distribute the costs to those students still paying tuition; out-of-state students and those greater-than-25%-smart students. Providing a helluva disincentive to _not_ attend college. Definitely the wrong message.

There are other more interesting and sustainable options – like taxes. In fact – that creates a virtuous circle – better educated people make more, therefore they have more income, therefore they can be taxed a higher rate.

If I’m buying a ‘free’ education with my taxes – sign me up.

Why the Democrats Lose

Over the past 17 days I’ve received 19 calls from this same unknown number. No message, no nothing. Some where in there, I found out it was the DNC calling (presumably for money) and well, I don’t have time for that right now. They just kept calling, and calling, and I just kept hitting ‘Ignore’. Leave a message, seriously.

Tonight, call number 20, I had a single moment to hear their spiel.

Uninspiring. Some vague statement about needing to train people, some script-read bit about taking back something from Bush, and how they need 80 gazillion dollars to make it worth their while. And the ask;

“Can we count on you to make a symbolic contribution of $110?”

“Symbolic” contribution?

Are they asking for actual, real money?

Baffled, I asked why they called me 20 times and couldn’t leave a message.

She apologized and said the call center had so many calls to make that nobody had time to leave a message.

Wrong answer.

There are so many things wrong with this story. So many. At least 20.

If the DNC is going to win, they need to be aggressive, passionate, straight-forward, engaging, and focused. Not annoying, aimless, vague, and apologetic.

Have we learned nothing?

End Illegal Immigration – Send More Jobs to Mexico

The reason America has so many illegal immigrants is the same reason America (and any other country) has immigration. Same reason young Americans flee the Dakotas. Those places suck.

Building a fence between the US and Mexico won’t make Mexico suck less (or NoDak) – illegal workers sending money to their home country just might. US, European, and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) corporations opening satellite offices, training Mexicans, and making Mexico a cool place to be will.

What if.

What if the rest of the world took it upon themselves to improve Mexico. And they did. Sure it could take years. Decades. Decades that should be behind us.

Cameras Cameras Everywhere

I grabbed a Gyro and a Lamb Kabob from Holy Land Deli this evening and notice this advertisement for a local surveillance company.

The first blob of red text says that the City of Minneapolis requires any grocery, tobacco, or liquor store to have a functioning surveillance system up and running as of January 2006.

I’m not sure where their cameras were (I suspect back by the meats and cheeses). I just knew there was one in my pocket and probably in the pockets of 75% of the other customers.

What’s the point of capturing the images if no one else sees them?

Bird Flu for the Birds

Perhaps I’d feel differently if Bird Flu was the only Big Bad the Big Media has thrown at us in the past 6 years. But it’s not.

Flood. Iraq. Terrorist Attack. Neighbors. Asteriods. First Graders. Blogs. (Maybe I’ll finish finding links later, maybe not.)

Call me cynical, but bird flu feels FUDdy. Especially when something like this comes through.

Jen read Flu. She says we’re due.

That may be. At minimum, the wrong people (everyone) are being told to prepare for something full of ‘ifs’, ‘whens’, and ‘maybes’.

“The H5N1 avian flu virus that has infected flocks on at least three continents and killed 91 people could be the virus that experts fear will mutate.”

(emphasis mine)

91 people have died on record from bird-to-human transmission. No human-to-human cases have been found.

The CDC conservatively estimates 20,000 people die each year from regular flu (the kind we have shots for).

More than 33,000 people have died due to military intervention in Iraq. The official death toll of the Sept. 11 disaster is 2,986.

I still remember the constant threat of MAD thrown at us growing up. I recognize that there were moments in the cold war where it came very close to occurring.

But. It. Didn’t. I think we’ve lost perspective.

Four Articles Encouraging Impeachment of George W. Bush

The Center for Constitutional Rights recently released Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, a $10, 144-page paperback they’re encouraging you purchase for your House Representative (that’s where impeachment hearings need to start).

From Onnesha Roychoudhuri’s interview at Alternet.org, here’s the basics of the 4 articles:

  1. Warrantless wiretapping of Americans in the U.S.

    “This constitutes a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which prohibits and makes criminal any wiretapping without a warrant.”

  2. Falsifications used to justify the Iraq war.

    “You reference any particular day and the administration was making statements that Iraq has a relationship to 9/11, al Qaida and Osama bin Laden; that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In the one and a half years leading up to the war, the time during which they were making these statements, they knew that they were false.”

  3. Torture, arbitrary long-term detentions, disappearances and special trial.

    “Our law is very clear on these things. You can’t torture people, you can’t commit war crimes, you can’t send people to countries where they’re tortured and you can’t set up special courts for trial. The Geneva Conventions are a part of our law…”

  4. All of the prior three articles together

    “If you look at these things together, you see that they are essentially destroying our republic and our democracy. They are destroying the constitutional structure of our government. Therefore, he should be impeached.”

Wow. This list even leaves out Bush’s poor handling of Katrina, Enron, Plame, and the Dubai Port deal.

Impeachment hearings for Clinton were initiated for crimes not at all related to our national security. Everything on this list is a national security and constitutional issue.

Not good for Bush. Not good at all.

Based on a quick Google News search, 4 towns in Vermont, San Francisco, and 28 of the 435 House Reps have voted for investigating grounds for impeachment.

Of those 28 Reps – MNs own Martin O. Sabo. Rock the House, Martin.

Citywide WiFi Needed in the Twin Cities, As Is Symmetrical DSL

I grabbed lunch with Leif Utne earlier this week. As you might expect, it was a pretty intense conversation on podcasting, technology, politics, and the overlap.

First order of business, I’m down with Minneapolis going with a private company to run citywide WiFi network for the two reasons cited in the Strib article:

  1. Startup Costs
    The faster the city is covered in a wifi cloud, the better. There are issues with that position, and this is one of them. Right now, the city doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to launch a network like this tomorrow. I wish it did. Any number of private companies do. Probably even a few local ones could pull it off. Either way, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and all the suburbs on the Met council need citywide wifi. Now. None of them can support it in-house yet. I don’t know how going with a private company prevents continual study into public ownership. Any funds spent on getting to public ownership should be considered research. Plus, only my water bill goes to the city. My other utilities; gas, electric, internet, phone – all companies (private or otherwise). Is that best? Not sure it matters.
  2. Legal Issues

    “Telephone and cable TV companies might sue the city on the grounds that a Minneapolis public network was using tax dollars to improperly compete with them.”

    FUD, I know, but it’s a good point. High speed WiFi (> 2Mbps) competes with every other communications method; telephone, radio, television. Aside from being inevitable, this is a very good thing. Plus, this is an opportunity for telephone and cable TV companies to offer valuable, unique services rather than collecting rent. Oh yea, both the non-profit HourCar.org and the for-profit ZipCar.com are in town. Choices are good things.

    Additionally, I think cable TV companies would be huge supporters of citywide wifi. It should get them off the hook for continual support of public access. (Citizen have their own “channels” on the internet).

All of this leads to the need for symmetrical (same upload speeds as download) service for everyday people. Why? Simple, the growth in media production isn’t from big media companies. It’s from you. The family photos, audio, and video you’re sharing with family and friends. Everyone a producer.

Imagine a telephone where conversations with your mom had a lag, but from a telemarketer was fine. Imagine a CD player that distorted the music you created, but played Top 40 artists just fine. Where is the line drawn on who gets quality service? When is famous, famous enough?

We live in this world today, and will until ISPs stop artificially bottlenecking transfer rates.

Doc Searles has been posting on Net Neutrality and symmetrical broadband for a while now. It’s taken me a little bit wrap my head around it. I wonder if the handicapping of businesses caused by asymmetrical service could be considered a violation of the Commerce clause.

Either way, this is the same issue I describe in TiVo’s Future is in Videoblogs post. Reminding me, TiVo needs to run BitTorrent and allow subscribers to upload video. Without that, yes, they are toast.