A prior family commitment makes it impossible for me to attend tonight’s Betty McCollum town meeting.
Anyone who goes – email or leave a comment in this thread. If you’re blogging it, send me a link.
A prior family commitment makes it impossible for me to attend tonight’s Betty McCollum town meeting.
Anyone who goes – email or leave a comment in this thread. If you’re blogging it, send me a link.
I try – oh, Lord, I try – to be civil. To exercise the better me. To disagree without being disagreeable. I try to let the better me shine through as much as I can. I truly do.
But when the subject is The Minnesota
Tragedy of Spyrchaetal Paresis “Progressive” Project, it’s truly difficult. Because the M ToSPPP writers whose entire oeuvre isn’t dim-witted lying or disingeuous babble…
…are just so very, very, very, very dumb. A writer called “Mark My Words” wrote this piece, about a bit of anti-gay graffiti in Washington County:
Imagine getting up in the morning, grabbing your coffee thermos and heading for the garage ready for work. You hit the door-opener, and you back your sedan out and mindlessly hit the clicker to close the garage-door. And while you’re in reverse, aiming your trunk-lid into traffic on your country-lane, you realize that this has been spray-painted in giant-sized green letter across 13 feet on the front of your house:
HIV AIDS gay help
Welcome to Ross Sveback’s world.
I’d say “read the whole thing”, but I’m not sure if your next of kin might not sue me for endangering your sanity.
No, it’s not the piece itself, which is a fairly rote recitation of the facts of a case the WashCo Sheriff is looking into.
No. It’s the title. “Homophobic Vandalism hits in Bachmann Country“.
Not one word connecting the vandalism (which, incidentally, I condemn) to Minnesota’s most conservative representative.
Not one bit of evidence that indicates the graffiti was politically-related at all.
Bachmann’s opponents are to derangement what Nicole Ritchie is to “vacuous”.
UPDATE: I’m going to recap what commenter Thorley Winston said; the correct response to this crime is to condemn the act of vandalism without qualification. And I do. I hope they catch the little twerp – and I’d suspect Rep. Bachmann does, too.
Just a hunch, but I’m comfortable with it.
So some Democrats get the idea that peaceful dissent is protected speech, provided it’s a lefty doing the dissenting at least:
Lefties are upset with RamCo Attorney Susan Gaertner, who is prosecuting eight RNC protesters (who, to be fair, are accused of a lot more than “dissent”, and whose job it is, to be even fairer, to prosecute the accused as opposed to make value judgements about the “protesters’” various “causes”.
But no matter. Glad to see that after a month of calling dissenters “Nazis” and “White Supremacists” and siccing the SEIU on ‘em, y’all remembered that whole “dissent is patriotic” bit.
I have hope!
Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network takes it out to the Minnesota State Fair from 11AM-5PM. We’ll be at our posh digs on Dan Patch Avenue, about 100 yards west of the main Snelling Avenue entrance, next to the Merchandise Mart, across from the Culligan, Farmers Union and DFL (hah!) booths.
We have eight solid hours of great live radio planned:
(All times Central)
So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. You have so many options:
Join us at the Fair!
It was a scratch! [end Seinfeld voice]
I was digging through some old websites that I created, easily 3-4 years before I discovered blogging, when putting opinion on the web involved a lot of futzing around with HTML, FTP and various badly-designed “web editing” tools.
And I stumbled across a 1998 edition of the “DFL Dictionary”.
When I was getting into the voice-over business, I encountered an “agent” who said that for a small fee – I think it was $100 – they’d start representing me to potential clients.
Fortunately I went to Don Vogel, who was a highly-experienced V/O guy, and whose show I’d been producing for a while.
He chuckled. “Mitch, run, don’t walk, away from anyone who says they’ll represent you for a fee”.
I’ve followed that advice, in and out of the broadcast industry, ever since.
And I’m grimly gladdened to note the number of scandals I’ve seen over the decades with “head-hunters” and “employment agencies” that charge fees to, supposedly, find people jobs. It’s especially common when times are hard. I remember back in the early nineties, when things in the Twin Cities were slow, and I had two kids and another on the way, and a company in Minneapolis was advertising all kinds of decent jobs, for a $95 fee. I thought about it…
…and declined. And sure enough, the WCCO “I-Team” busted them. It was a scam; hundreds paid in, almost nobody got a job.
A Minneapolis headhunting firm has closed its doors and shut down its website, leaving a trail of questions and disgruntled customers who say they shelled out thousands of dollars to land a job but never got results.
A paper sign taped to the locked glass door of the company’s 12th-floor office in the Baker Building in downtown Minneapolis says: “Arthur Group Executive Search.” On it, someone scribbled, “Fraud! I want my money back!”
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) said Thursday that it began investigating the company about three weeks ago and was moving to yank its accreditation but the firm’s closing beat them to it.
“I think they were preying on middle- to high-level executives who were at their weakest moment,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the local BBB, adding that she feels many were embarrassed to even file a report. She said the company flew under the BBB’s radar for a long time by resolving complaints right away, often by paying out a settlement.
A common theme among those who claim they were scammed: They felt the service would give them an edge looking for a high-level position in a tough job market. They say the company’s owner, Barry Trimble, was a smooth salesman who didn’t follow through on promises. While the company provided some services, the clients say, it often did a less-than-adequate job. And they question whether the jobs and connections the company touted existed at all.
In a phone interview Thursday, Trimble, 46, of Dellwood, denied misleading clients, saying it’s clear in the company’s agreements that it does not make any guarantees. He also said that the jobs did exist. “We had numerous jobs right up until the end. They were real jobs.”
A real agency, or agent, gets their money from either a finders fee or a percentage of your cut. And that’s what makes a real agency or agent actually go out and work to represent you; if you don’t get a gig, they don’t get paid.
What is the impetus for someone who’s already been paid to go out and beat the bushes to get you hired, even in the unlikely event they are on the up-and-up?
I do understand that desperate feeling, and the lengths someone will go to when things are looking ugly.
But some things never change. Vogel told it to me; I’ll tell it to you: If someone asks you to pay up front for job leads, run. Don’t walk. Get away. Save your money for something that’ll work.
The subject is constituent meetings related to healthcare.
Senator Klobuchar: “Meets” with constituents via a “tele-town hall”. To te accurate – the technology was exceedingly buggy. To be fair, she and her people by all appearances tried to put on a fair show; it’s also worth noting that her stance on
Obamessiahcare Kennedycare differs from the orthodox left’s stance, to the point that she’s angering liberals. Fair is fair.
Representatives Ellison and McCollum: Held a healthcare rally for, basically, supporters. At the DFL headquarters. That’s it.
What a wonderful, civil country we’d have if it weren’t for all those deranged wingnuts making all those townhall meetings so dang uncivil.
It started during Bachmann’s introductory remarks when she said, “Let’s not destroy the greatest health care system the world has ever known.” That sparked a chorus of boos that was quickly drowned out by cheers.
“Participatory democracy is alive and well in America,” Republican Rep. Michael Burgess, a physician from Texas who was Bachmann’s guest at the meeting, wryly observed.
The capacity crowd of about 450 in the school auditorium was decidedly pro-Bachmann. An estimated 400 more watched the meeting on closed-circuit television in the school cafeteria.
People packed the aisles, waiting to get to microphones to question — or lecture — the two-term congresswoman.
When angry shouting matches broke out, Bachmann didn’t join in. She calmly and patiently listened to her critics, and when the audience shouted
them down, she asked her supporters to let them speak.
While cheers and jeers frequently interrupted the meeting, it was not as rowdy as some other town halls around the nation earlier this month. Unlike some of her congressional colleagues, Bachmann managed to keep her temper when confronted by angry protesters.
One might have expected the local left to disgrace themselves with their boorish behavior; rabid conspiracymongering and rage-honing has become a cottage industry among Bachmann’s regional detractors. Bachmann Derangement was alive and “well” long before Sarah Palin was even elected governor. She is proof that there is nothing the left hates worse than one of their supposed constituents – a woman, a minority – who goes apostate on them.
I’d love to hear from people who were there.
ABC and NBC won’t air an ad critical of
The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama’s health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot — particularly in light of ABC’s health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.
The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.
Of course, nothing new there; as their ad revenues have plummeted over the past few decades, they have been resolute in refusing ads from the National Rifle Association.
The Northern Alliance’s swing at the Minnesota State Fair starts today!
I’ll be out there today from five to seven PM, at our new studio (for a year, anyway) on Dan Patch, just west of the main Snelling entrance.
I’ll be joined by Representative John Kline, James Lileks, and John Swon.
And then there’s tomorrow…
…but we’ll get to that later tonight.
One of the best restaurants in the city of Saint Paul is Heartland. That’s a true statement by popular and critical affirmation as well as from personal experience. Heartland’s chef-owner, Lenny Russo, writes one of the “community voice” blogs at the Star Tribune website, via which he delivered a bombshell today:
Heartland to St. Paul: “So long. It was great while it lasted.”
Another victim of the wretched economy, you might think. Just another casualty in the cut-throat restaurant industry which has seen so many closings already this year, perhaps you assume.
But that’s not the story here. Heartland is doing fine. Saint Paul, however, might be broken.
How can you tell when MN2020′s John Fizgerald is talking gibberish about charter schools?
His latest piece, “What Do The Metro Gang Strike Force And Charter Schools Have In Common”, continues the pattern of casual, ofay group slander he started earlier this summer with his series on supposed financial mismanagement at charter schools. As I had a phalanx of other charter school advocates showed, Fitzgerald wrenched facts and context beyond recognition, inflated piddling accounting errors (that had largely been corrected) into capital charges, and turned specific incidents of malfeasance into a general attacks on the institution of charter schools.
Now that we have an incident that appears as if it could include genuine corruption?
Well, do you think Fitzgerald is going to let a pattern like that go away easy?
The connection between the strike force and charter schools is simple: They both have very tenuous allegiance to an elected body.
As we’ll note below, this is absurd. A charter schools is inseparable from, and utterly accountable to, its elected board.
This tenuous connection can lead to inappropriate and ill-advised actions among officials.
The connection is simple; also utterly specious.
The 34-member Metro Gang Strike Force has been implicated in misconduct and is being investigated by the FBI after a scathing report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor in May. Allegedly, Strike Force employees conducted improper seizures of property then took home seized property for personal use. Oversight for the Strike Force is conducted by the Minnesota Gang and Drug Oversight Council, which has broad responsibilities for drug task forces and gang strike forces throughout the state, and the Metro Gang Strike Force Advisory Board which selects and supervises the strike force’s commander, reviews the strike force’s operations and approves its expenditures.The OLA report stated that “Neither the Minnesota Gang and Drug Oversight Council or the Metro Gang Strike Force Advisory Board oversaw the financial practices of the Metro Gang Strike Force, allowing the strike force’s commander to determine how the strike force would operate. Those practices put at risk the strike force’s ability to safeguard and account for seized assets and maintain the integrity of criminal evidence.”
Neither group’s membership is elected. Members are appointed by their various city counsels and county commissions. Therefore, the strike force’s chain of command is muddied and responsibility for Strike Force actions does not go directly to elected officials.
And when you’re talking about a body that has the search and seizure power, and the power to investigate people, and in extreme situations has special dispensation to use lethal force with vastly different consequences than for civilians, that’s a real problem.
With a school?
That same lack of oversight exists among Minnesota’s nearly 150 charter schools.
That, of course, is baked wind.
The Gang Strike Force’s overseers checked out of the process. They abrogated their duty.
But for the odd cast of malfeasance, Charter Schools’ accountability is present, active and effective. A charter school’s accountability loop is pretty much in the same building as the school itself.
It just isn’t tied as closely to the state, its bureaucracy and the Teacher’s Union. Which is, of course, the part that bothers MN2020.
By state law, charter school oversight is provided by three entities: the school’s sponsor, the school’s board of directors and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)…A charter school’s board of directors is comprised of teachers and parents elected among the school’s teachers and parents.
This, by the way, is a good thing, driving control and responsibility down to the individual school level. Like any responsibility, people may or may not live up to it – but the charter school board system means any mismanagement or irregularities are much more difficult to hide than they are in a system like, say, Saint Paul,
That board hires the executive director who, unlike public school superintendents, is not required to meet the stringent state laws for administrative licensure.
“Stringent laws” which not only have nothing to do with education, but – if you’ve paid attention – don’t necessarily ensure competent administration either.
The executive director serves at the board’s pleasure.
The Department of Education is charged with holding charter schools responsible to state law and provides help when the schools run afoul of any laws.
To sum up, charter schools – which receive roughly $10,500 of state taxpayer money per student (roughly $1,000 more than traditional public school students)
But not, as Fitzgerald continues to disingenuously omit, any local or district bonding or special levy money, which drives the public school expenditures per student well over the charter schools’ level.
- undergoes oversight by sponsors that are not required to be active overseers, boards that are elected by members only, and a bureaucracy with only a tenuous tie to one elected official, the governor.
Against that, Fitzgerald prefers the “accountability” and “access” of the district school board – which in Minnesota’s biggest, most expensive and most troubled districts is elected in the same sense that the Iranian presidency is an elected job; in one-party cities like Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the School Boards are DFL sinecures, their members accountable in reality only to the teachers union (of which most of them were members) and the Party; they are “led” by superintendents that they hire to serve in their own image (and who live by public sector standards a rock-star life, with money and perks that’d be the envy of many mid-level CEOs), who change jobs so frequently that accountability is an even bigger joke than it is among the boards themselves.
Indeed, look at the major school districts – Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth. The memberships on the boards, and the specific butt sitting in the Superintendent’s chair, may change -but the overarching principles behind the Boards and Administrations in one-party cities never change. The only real change is the perpetual free-fall of graduation rates and achievement – and the spiking numbers of people like me who’ve pulled our kids out of the festering nightmare and put them in the charter schools that Fitzgerald wants to kill off by any means necessary.
This next paragraph nicely encapsulates the creaking illogic not only behind this piece, but behind MN2020′s entire logically vacuous attack on charter schools. You will be excused if you need to read it twice; I sure did:
That’s why the chain of command is so terribly important. That’s why officers and deputies need to answer to elected county commissioners and city council members through their sheriffs and chiefs, not to non-elected multi-jurisdictional boards. And that’s why charter schools should be responsible to elected officials through licensed administrators, not to members of their own charter schools, sponsors that may or may not be involved in the school or a statewide commissioner answerable only to the governor.
Did you catch that?
Police need to be accountable to an elected body with power to enact changes as close to their level as possible.
Which, as it happens, is exactly what charter schools do. A school of 200 students and 12 staff and teachers will report to a director and board whose only administrative job is to deal with the affairs of the school. Not forty schools and thousands of employees via a bureaucracy of hundreds of unionized worker bees, mind you; one school. One staff, all of whom they know by name. One checkbook.
While there are some charter schools doing a good job managing their finances, proper oversight is imperative. If it doesn’t exist, then rules must be changed to provide it before people do the irrational, ill-advised things people sometimes do.
Spectacular failures in accountability – like the Gang Strike Force and the embezzlement at the Heart of the Earth charter school – obscure the larger, but vastly less-sexy and headline-grabbing, issue.
Look at the “chain of command” for the schools that are almost universally floundering, the big urban districts; all of them report to huge administrations that are (let’s be a bit pollyannaish) “accountable” to school boards that serve entirely as DFL power incubators and teachers union power reservoirs and, if you’re a parent and taxpayer, your “representative”, provided you agree with them on every agenda point (because nothing is going to change!). On a financial and curriculum level they are “accountable” to the Minnesota Department of Education, and thence on many issues to the US Do’E.
That’s not accountability. That’s bureaucratic overburden; a maze of red tape and gibberish that serves largely to swallow up and digest any real notion of “accountability”.
If public schools’ responsibility loops were pushed down to the individual school level, as charter schools’ are, they’d stand a chance of actually working.
An act of vandalism at Colorado Democratic headquarters that shattered windows next to signs about health care reform took a strange turn Wednesday when it was revealed that one of the suspects was a Democratic activist.
Democratic leaders initially said that the window shattering was an act of political vandalism, possibly by opponents of health care reform.
[Not to mention racists, white supremacists and militiamen!]
But the political leanings of suspect Maurice Schwenkler raised the prospect that one of the party’s own might have vandalized its building to make a statement.
…but they’re just people who don’t know Berg’s Seventh Law.
Whatever my differences with Ted Kennedy – and when it came to personality and outlook on life to say nothing of politcs, there were many – I had to admire the guy during this past year. The guy lived quite a life – and, at 77, was still actuarially a tad young to go. And he probably knew it.
So he fought like hell. He attacked his illness head-on; he threw all of his resources – and, being a Boston Brahmin from a phenomenally wealthy family, he certainly had the resources to throw – at trying to push back his brain cancer. By all accounts, he fought like a lion, living his life to the best of his ability in the meantime.
I was about to write “let’s hope we can all be so lucky” – but of course, his colleagues in the Senate are waving Kennedy’s barely-cool body in front of the media and the people to ensure that you (but not, as it happens, they) can not:
“Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi underlined that Kennedy’s death one year after the cancer-stricken liberal icon climbed on stage at the Democratic National Convention of August 2008 and declared health care reform “the cause of my life.”
“Today, we pick up the torch and recommit ourselves to health insurance reform,” said Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen, who leads the party’s efforts to maintain or enlarge its majority in the 2010 mid-term elections.
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who like Kennedy has missed some votes this year due to illness, mourned “by best friend in the Senate” and called for the health overhaul legislation to be named for the late Massachusetts lawmaker.
“In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American,” said Byrd.
The contradiction that none of them mention; the treatment options for a 77 year old man with a long history of alcohol abuse would be much, much more restricted than they were for Kennedy.
“Heathcare Rationing” is practiced all over the American healthcare industry, in both the private and public sectors, today. HMOs adopted “Case Management” from their inception. “Case Management” is all about answering, for a given person with a given condition, the question “For a person of a given age and with a given medical history and in a given overall condition, what will be the most cost-effective treatment option, given the limits in the amount of resources available?” Of course, behind the scenes there is a formula – how many years will a treatment likely buy a patient – and, where resources are scarce, a question: to whom should a limited set of resources go?
For a seven year old girl who develops leukemia, it’s moderately simple: aggressive, intensive treatment – say, a bone marrow transplant and intensive chemo – the $200,000 worth of treatment will likely buy 70-75 years of life span; the procedures are becoming moderately common. Approved!
For a 65 year old overweight alcoholic and two pack a day smoker with terminal cirrhosis of the liver? He has uncontrolled high blood pressure and all sorts of alcohol-related pathologies? He might get the liver transplant, if there’s a liver of his type available - and if there’s not a 30 year old marathon-running father of four with a congenital liver condition who needs it first; a smoker with hypertension and alcohol-related kidney trouble and high cholesterol might have a life expectancy of seven more years, should he get the liver and the cool half mill in supportive care; the marathon runner could get you fifty years and change. Again – a simple choice; if there’s one liver that matches both, the 30 year old will live, and the Case Manager – or the team that manages the case, perhaps – will put the 65 year old on palliative care, and medication to try to coax the liver function along, and tell him they’ll try to find another liver but to get his affairs in order anyway.
By the way – you may not call the Case Manager or CM team a “Death Panel” – but if you’re the 65 year old in the example above, the difference is only rhetorical.
So how much money did Ted Kennedy spend to eke out this past 15 months or so? It’s his money, and it’s his life, and I won’t begrudge him a dollar or a day.
But if a 77 year old man with highly-advanced brain cancer, plenty of chronic conditions related to decades of heavy drinking, and a good 60 pounds overweight went into a doctor’s office in Sweden or the UK or Canada, what do you suppose the prognosis, course of treatment, or results would have been? Not just for any given 77 year old man, mind you, but 100 of them whose profiles match each other fairly closely?
Naming a health rationing system after a man whose struggle the system would have made impossible makes sense – in the curious little world of Democrat social policy.
Rest in peace, Ted Kennedy.
Die in pain, Obamacare.
The sixth season of Top Chef continues tonight. I would have given warning a week ago, but I was caught off guard when the initial episode appeared last week. Good thing I had already prepared to watch the Top Chef Masters finale that night, otherwise I would have been stuck watching one of the twenty seven re-runs of the first episode between its initial broadcast and next week’s show. Nightmare scenario narrowly averted!
Anyway for those who’ve missed it so far, this season the producers chose a slightly more mature and accomplished field of cheftestants than they have in the past. The average age seems to have risen by five or six years – and when that’s the difference between 25 and 30, it makes a big difference in experience and confidence. Also there are no “culinary students” and only one “caterer” in the bunch. These are all chef owners, executive chefs, and sous chefs, some of whom have worked for some of the biggest names in the business.
My personal favorites at the moment (though admittedly it’s too early for it to mean much) are Jennifer Carroll, the hyper-competent and accomplished Philadelphia chef with very little tolerance for BS, and Kevin Gillespie, a jolly looking Atlanta chef with a beard like a rhododendron bush who aced the first elimination challenge in the hyper-competitive field. Michael Isabella, a Washington D. C. chef is looking very strong while thus far getting the Top Chef producers’ full-out villain edit (boo! hiss!). Could make for some good foodie drama in the coming weeks.
Lest I tempt the patience of the readership here, I’ll not go into much detail on the cheffy goings on from week to week. But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one here tuning in, so it might get mentioned from time to time. For more detailed reviews, the best blog hands down is Dom Armato’s Skillet Doux.
Ted Kennedy dead at 77:
Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts),” the Kennedy family said in a statement early on Wednesday.One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history — a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker — Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.
For paleoliberals, it’ll be just like John Lennon.
But RIP, Ted Kennedy.
Apparently tired of letting Western millionaires have all the fun bashing the world’s leading economic nations while demanding huge sacrifices of their wealth as payment for ruining the planet, the nations of Africa decided to jump into the game. Being new to this particular shakedown racket you’ll forgive them for their embarrassing directness:
ADDIS ABABA, Aug 25 (IPS) – An African Union proposal demanding billions of dollars in compensation for the impacts of climate change is taking shape.
It is time for Africa to aggressively engage with climate change negotiations to ensure its interests are met in the designing of global responses, said African Union (AU) Commission chair Jean Ping. AU officials say the lack of a coordinated stance on global warming by African governments has placed serious limitations on Africa’s ability to negotiate in the past. To put this right, a meeting to formulate a common stand ahead of the Copenhagen meeting has just concluded in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
African experts on climate change and high-level representatives of AU member states have recommended Africa demand between $67 billion and $200 billion annually in compensation.
There’s something almost refreshing in the directness here. No attempt to get rich on the sly via some hard to understand “cap and trade” scheme, or misdirected funds or grants with earth-friendly names. Their message is simple: Pay. Up.
Back during my long-dead, unlamented career as a rock-and-roller, there were a slew of bars that everyone played.
Your band played innumerable gigs at the Seventh Street Entry for $20 and ten spots on the guest list and two drink tickets apiece to keep the hope of someday playing the stage at the First Avenue main room, opening for some kind of national act or another, alive. You knew that not only had the Replacements and Hüsker Dü and teh Suicide Commandos played on that very stage, but that the sticky residue on the “dressing room” benches had probably started as Tommy Stinson’s vomit, years before.
The Cabooze? You played there, if you could, because it was a little taste of the good life; a huge stage, a clean dressing room (that always started out the evening stocked with a cooler full of beer for the bands), a sound system that not only worked but made you sound like a rock star – the Cabooze kept the dream alive.
Mr B’s? Fernandos? MacReady’s? The Union? You played there to play. Usually to a bar full of four or five career alcoholics who would have polished their bar stools to anything from Sonic Youth to Lawrence Welk in the background.
But the Uptown? You played there – and hung out there – to see and be seen. The Uptown was where The Scene was. It was also the only live music joint in the city (other than the bars that booked only cover bands, like the Iron Horse or the Burnsville Bowl, which we just didn’t do) that the girls would ever go to on their own; Wednesday was “Ladies Night”, with $.50 drinks for the girls, which drew, mirabile dictu, guys, to hit on the girls and, failing that (and didn’t we all fail at that?), cadge cheap drinks off them. I plead guilty and the Fifth.
Getting booked was a sisyphean ordeal; booking agent Maggie MacPherson (known to at least a few of my frustrated, band-leading friends as “the Maggot”) was brusque, curt, uncompromising, and impossible to reach, ever. Fortunately for me, her boyfriend was a huge Don Vogel fan; it was worth a couple fairly choice bookings for my bands, back in the day.
The stage was as narrow and shallow as the hipsters that clogged the place. ”Loading In” involved hoisting your gear through the back door directly to the stage - a miserable slog in mid-winter, which was inevitably when I played there. The sound system had a perpetual short-circuit that made everyone sound tinny and crackly. The bartenders were arrogant and played peevish favorites with all the grace of Nick Coleman reciting Percy Shelley. And it – at the corner of Hennepin and Lake, the epicenter of the “Uptown” neighborhood, the core of the Minneapolis hipster universe – was where everyone went (when they weren’t shooting pool at the CC or doing three-for-ones at Lyle’s).
And, as it has long been for most of the hipsters and musical C-list local heroes that used to run their lives around Maggie’s whims and the bands on the schedule, it looks like the party’s over:
Hopes of saving the Uptown Bar & Cafe at its present location dimmed Monday as the Minneapolis Planning Commission unanimously approved a development plan to level the long-beloved rock club and brunch spot in favor of a new, three-story retail space.
The developer behind the project, Jeffrey Herman, said a plan is in place to relocate the bar and keep its legacy as a music venue alive.
You can never go back, of course. And Uptown – the neighborhood, not the bar – certainly hasn’t. Just as the hipsters and wannabees grew up and got married and got day jobs that became careers and had kids and moved to Plymouth, the old hipster haunts have been gobbled up by soulless commerce; chain stores and theme eateries have replaced head shops and holes-in-the-wall; the same hipsters that used to sneak booze into the Uptown Theatre for the midnight showings of “Stop Making Sense” (I have no idea who I’m talking about here) now go to screenings at – I kid you not – an art-film multiplex, different only in scale and material from the mall-anchor megatheaters by the Gap they get their kids’ clothes at.
Of course, you want to go back:
Herman, whose company, Urban Anthology, helped bring Victoria’s Secret and American Apparel stores to Uptown, said he is among those who would hate to see the neighborhood lose such a landmark. That decision is up to bar owner Frank Toonen, 88, who approached Herman about the retail plan, the developer said.
Toonen wants to sell the property to raise money that he plans to leave to his wife and to the widow of his son, Kenneth Toonen, who ran the bar for several decades before he passed away last summer, said Herman.
“If they were younger and more able to handle running the business, they would, but as it stands this is strictly an estate-divestment situation,” Herman said.
I have fond memories of that time, of course. The temptation to go memorialize the era by walking in, hitting on and striking out with a U of M girl, handing off a demo tape, and puking in a back-alley dumpster is certainly there…
…but, these days, manageable.
The Obama administration has been without a clue as to economic policy and in the vacuum they have fallen back on tried-but-failed liberal policies such as “spending our way” out of The Great Recession.
Yesterday Brack O’Bomba interrupted his uninterruptable vacation to re-appoint Ben Bernanke.
Despite word from the White House that “nobody is looking to make any news” this week, President Obama on Tuesday took a break from vacationing to announce his plans to nominate Ben Bernanke to a second term as head of the Federal Reserve.
While it is not unprecedented for a US President to reappoint the former office-holder’s Federal Reserve head, the fact that Obama didn’t announce this before or after his “off-limits” vacation, coupled with his inability to fill out his cabinet, are subtle clues to his cluelessness and may indicate that he simply has no one of his ilk that will take the job under his watch.
Or maybe he just spaced it? Either way, I’m not going to get all “wee-weed” up about it.
In reading Doug Grow’s account of A-Klo’s “Tele-Town Hall” “meeting”, it occurs to me…
One caller tried hard to pin her down.
“Do you support a public (health insurance) option?” he asked.
That seemed to call for a “yes” or “no” answer.
The caller got neither.
Sen. Amy KlobucharInstead, here’s what he got: “I will tell you this,” the senator said. “I’m open to a competitive option. You need to put pressure on the insurance companies. One way to do that [is allow the public to join] the federal health care plan or one just like it. The government does administer it, but it’s a private plan. That’s one way. And then there’s this co-op plan proposal [in the Senate]. That really hasn’t been formed yet. Those are some of the ideas. I want to make sure whatever option we choose works for our state. Make sure it makes it easier for small businesses and the self-employed.”
…that in the wake of Minnesota’s eight-month recount ordeal, that Minnesota has gone from having one Senataor in DC…
So after writing about the apparent bollix-up with Senator Klobuchar’s “Tele-Town Hall”, I figured that in the interest of presenting a balanced picture of the news I’d invite the Senator to appear on the Northern Alliance Radio Network at the Fair next week.
So I went to the Senator’s “Press” page, and noted the contact name and phone number…:
The guy on the phone had never heard of a Linden Zakula. “Anyone in the Senator’s press operation at all named Zakula?” I prodded.
“I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of her…”
So I took whomever I could get. I told the non-Zakula staffer who took the message that our Senator would have her choice of times, from Monday the 31st through Saturday the 5th of September (Friday the 28th and Saturday the 29th are booked solid), and stressed that Ed and I do the most civil, respectful interviews in town; indeed, we’ll put anything we do up against anything MPR or NPR do in terms of overall tone and quality, and if they doubted it they should ask A-Klo’s former boss, RT Rybak. We’ve got tough, legitimate questions, but it’s not going to be a Jerry Springer show (provided the SEIU stays home).
Sometimes, I wonder what things that we accept as normal today, that would have been considered paranoia a few years ago?
In “A Parliament of Whores”, P.J. O’Rourke famously calculated that if we had taken the money he Fed had spent on eradicating poverty since 1964, and simply given it, in cash, to people below the poverty line to raise them to the poverty line, we’d have at least legally eradicated poverty (you’ll note that trillions in spending over three generations have not managed that) and saved billions of dollars back when “billion” was still a very big number.
Which is no dumber than what we have been doing for the past 45 years.
About a year ago, my radio colleague Ed Morrissey and I interviewed a pair of experts on Minnesota’s heath insurance system, with an aim toward deflating the notion that Minnesota is bursting at the seams with uninsured people. When you count Minnesotans who are not already eligible for some other kind of existing public or private health insurance, it turns out that around eight percent of Minnesotans lack coverage.
Which is a problem, but one that can be dealt with without drastic, revolutionary, economy-changing measures.
“But”, I thought, “the rest of the US can’t possibly be doing as well as Minnesota is, right?”
Via Ed, Jazz Shaw at The ModVoice notes that no – but it’s s not nearly as far off as some would have you believe.
Of course, nobody believes it straight from conservative sources – but Shaw is taking his info from the Census Bureau:
Next, we need to go back to the Census Bureau report and turn to page 31 where we are informed that their total number includes the category of those who are listed as “non-citizens” (which are carefully broken out from naturalized citizens vs. native born citizens.) The non-citizen rate of uninsured individuals clocked in at 43.8%, or roughly 9.4 million non-Americans. Since these people are not here legally and not paying into the system, that portion of the crisis is better addressed in a debate on immigration issues, but taxpaying Americans don’t need to be on the hook for that segment of the total.
While the number continues to drop, it’s also worth noting that we’re not talking exclusively about the abject poor who can’t afford insurance. As this Business and Media report informs us, that same Census Bureau summary includes the following:
But according to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.
Once you do some fairly basic math, you come up with the same figure that the Kaiser Family Foundation arrived at.
The liberal Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number of uninsured Americans who don’t qualify for government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 8.2 million and 13.9 million.
As Ed notes, to buy each of these people private insurance would cost about 50 billion a year.
Since we’re talking a government program, let’s double it just to be safe. 100 billion dollars a year. Which is less than half of what Obama is talking about taking from the economy (which is itself almost certainly a hopelessly low estimate).
But the real story is this; according to the Census Bureau, the very problem that we’re supposedly threatening to dump our entire healthcare system over – the supposed 47 million uninsured Americans – is actually less than a third of that number, under 14 million.
…a better definition of “moderate” than h the one MLP at Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry provided…:
When your house is under seige by the barbarians, a moderate is the guy who says “Fine. Bar the doors. But we’re leaving the windows open.”