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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Transportation: delays, delays, delays

If you aren't sick of delays in transportation projects yet, here's another one. The Wakota bridge will be delayed another year while the state finds a new contractor. Originally scheduled to open next year, it will now be completed in 2009 at the earliest.

It may be the engineering firm's fault that designed the bridge incorrectly, but that is little consolation to drivers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


For various reasons, thinking about politics right now is unpleasant. Maybe this will change soon, but no guarantees.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Can they get any dumber?

When you talk of politicians in high office, are there more plain idiotic Democrats or Republicans? I tend to think the latter. There may be some crazy Democrats out there, but no Democrats would say something as stupid as implying that Muslims will overrun the country if Keith Ellison doesn't use a Bible at his swearing-in photo-op.

This whole Keith Ellison swearing-in issue has been hilarious if for no other reason than it has exposed the reptile brains of many Republicans. Plus, for the more intelligent out there, you can't help but laugh at the fact that these people insist on using the Bible because it is "the word of God"...but only if you use the Bible that was commissioned by some English king several hundred years ago. I wonder how many of them even realize there is more than one Bible out there?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What do we need?

Yes, the retirement of the boomers means that Minnesota and every other state are going to be facing problems attracting new workers. What do we need to succeed?

The way I see it, we need several things: education, diversity, tolerance, and an entrepreneurial work ethic. The Lori Sturdevant column talks about education, which is a good and necessary first step, but it's not all. We are getting more and more diversity, as long as we don't shoot ourselves in the foot by treating newcomers like crap. Minnesota has also been pretty good historically on the tolerance issue, although it seems we need to be more vigilant these days against Michelle Bachmann clones and their stupid ideas.

entrepreneurial spirit is probably the hardest to describe, but may be the most important. It needs to be easy to start new businesses and take risks here. Universal health care would be one thing that would do this, since it would both allow small employers to recruit good workers without worrying about how their health benefits stack up against larger companies, and it would also let employees move between jobs more freely and therefore take more risks. Reducing whatever unnecessary regulatory barriers to new business creation is another thing that I have long advocated for, along with tax code simplification.

Minnesota is far better at some of these things than other states, but that is no excuse to stop innovating.

Yet Another War

From the looks of things, it appears that the U.S. is going to be using the same tactics in the War on Illegal Immigrants as they use in the War on Drugs. If so, the results are going to be similar: destruction of families and communities, overwhelmed judicial systems, and no progress made against the root cause of the problem.

It doesn't appear that the government is taking any action against Swift for employing illegal immigrants. No huge fines for every illegal immigrant they find. Instead, the government is going after the immigrants themselves, destroying families and homes. But Swift will simply replace the workers hauled away with fresh illegal immigrants, and nothing will change.

Swift is providing the demand for illegal immigration, like addicts provide the demand for drugs. From time to time, the government goes after the suppliers (dealers and illegal immigrants), but after engaging in some token enforcement against them, more supplies come in to fill the gap created by the demand. In the end, all that really changes is that jails get more crowded and we spend more time and money locking up people who are trying to make a living fulfilling that demand.

But I wouldn't expect anything else from the current administration. It is despicable, heartless, and par for the course.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

McCain-Pawlenty will not happen

Give it up, people: McCain-Pawlenty will not happen. Not in a million years. There are two reasons for this.

First, McCain is not trusted by the far-right base of the Republican Party. He is not trusted on abortion. He is not trusted on immigration. He is not trusted on taxes. There is no way that the base would put up with McCain, a person they do not trust, choosing another now-heretical former conservative as Vice President. A ticket that the base would see as consisting of two RINOs? Not gonna happen.

Second, McCain will not be the Republican's candidate. It increasingly looks like Bush is going to call McCain's bluff of demainding 20,000 or however many more troops for Iraq. When that fails to make things better, as it will, McCain will be history. McCain has tied his fortune to Bush's ~30 percent approval rating and his even worse approval rating on Iraq. As TPM points out, the Iraq War is now less popular than gay marriage, legalizing pot, or banning handguns. McCain is toast.

A conservative-Pawlenty ticket is much more probable than a McCain-Pawlenty ticket. So knock it off, media.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More whining

Liquor sales should be allowed in grocery stores. They should be allowed seven days a week. They should be allowed 24 hours a day. And no government anywhere should run a liquor store.

I don't care how much money it raises for cities. The government should not get into retail, period. That's not a function of government. Get the money somewhere else.

Random thoughts

Some random, comment-induced thoughts:

I don't when anybody prays regardless of their race, as long as it isn't government-sanctioned. I simply don't care about the religious beliefs of the vast majority of people out there. I care when it moves into the political realm, true, but praying? Give me a break.

Saying that we don't need a smoking ban to protect employees because "they know what they are getting into" has to be one of the most ridiculous arguments out there. That argument implies that any safety regulation that impacts business is unnecessary because people will figure it out on their own: the gilded libertarian dream. Sorry, but in the real world, people would rather work at an unhealthy job than starve and go homeless. If you took away every single mine safety regulation, do you honestly think that all the workers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and Kentucky would rather be unemployed than have unsafe jobs? People shouldn't have to risk their lives or their health to put food on the table. There is nothing wrong with government protecting worker safety. Who else is going to do it?

I do have to admit that "the smoking ban decimated the 4th floor bars at the MOA" is something I hadn't heard before. What a crock. Did anybody think that maybe the reason that all those bars closed because nobody in their right mind would go to a bar at the Mall of America? Why would people drive out to a mall filled with teens for a night on the town? Did anybody bother to think of that angle?

Posturing Pawlenty

The liberalizing of Tim Pawlenty continues. This time, it is calling for renewable energy. He wants a quarter of all energy used in the state to come from renewable sources by 2025. He wants more E85, more money for research into producing ethanol from crops other than corn, and a reduction in fossil fuel use. He supports fining energy companies that don't comply, and tosses aside conservative concerns about regulation.

Once again, these are all great ideas that I support (with the possible exception of ethanol). But isn't this a little freaky? Pawlenty is definitely changing his tune. An earlier version of the story online had Pawlenty sounding like a far-left liberal, saying "look at all of the tax credits and subsidies the oil industry gets" when questioned about just how conservative it is to subsidize renewables. Definitely not old-time Pawlenty-speak.

What's his motivation? I have no idea. If it is higher office, this isn't the way to go about it: running as a Rockefeller Republican won't get you any Republican endorsements nationally in this day and age. So what can it be?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Smoking ban

A statewide smoking ban is now more likely in the next year, and I definitely welcome this. It's about time.

The article quotes naysayer Tom Emmer, who continues to add to his credentials as craziest Republican in the House (with Michelle Bachmann gone, there will be a new craziest senator). Completely ignoring the realities of secondhand smoke, he says "If this is what government is for, let's go to the next step -- why not cheeseburgers?" Well, I don't know, Rep. Emmer. If you walked into a bar and they started shoving cheeseburgers down your throat, however, then perhaps it would be a different story, wouldn't it?

Smoking bans exist to protect employees first and foremost, and then the non-smoking customers. There is no such thing as a secondhand cheeseburger, which is why they aren't regulated. This isn't hard to understand, and I hope we do get a statewide smoking ban soon.

Incidentally, I don't support a ban on trans-fats since there is also no such thing as secondhand french fries. However, I would support a requirement that all businesses serving food over a certain size post the nutritional information of all of their dishes, including trans-fat content. Consumers can't make good choices if they don't have good information.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Message discipline

Republicans are much better at message discipline. They have so completely taken over that any claims of a "liberal bias" anywhere are ridiculous. Why is this?

-They know how to use money.
-Everybody in the machine has a part to play and they fulfill those parts without thinking and without shame.

Take the "Pawlenty is responsible for the budget surplus" story. The MSM is flogging it. The blogs are flogging it. There will be letters to the editor, statements from the Republican Party apparatus, and so on. It is one unified message, something that Democrats really can't do. I won't say that Republicans have no shame, but they certain have no qualms about reciting the party line on command.

It's something to think about.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Somebody has dreams of being Vice-President. That same somebody has probably been huffing too much glue.

As Atrios says, Na Ga Ha Pen.

Besides, it is way too early to be thinking about 2008. I can't believe that people out there are actually supporting one person over another at this point. We know nothing about anybody. Wait a few Friedmans before you start making decisions, seriously.