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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Saturday Nevada Update....

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 01/19/08 16:16

by Dave Mindeman

The early caucus returns in Nevada show some surprising trends. Hillary Clinton is actually doing very well in the casino caucus locations. These are the same places that some of her supporters were challenging in court.

The other trend worth noting is that John Edwards is not doing well at all. Because of the intracacies of the caucus system, it looks like his support is getting absorbed into the other camps. The percentages, so far, do not look good for him. He will have a tough time managing perceptions on this one.

Romney has already been declared the winner in Nevada.... he continues to use the western states as his delegate base; but he will need a strong win somewhere else to really emerge into some kind of front runner status. It doesn't look like he will do well in South Carolina..... so where does he go next?

The tight races continue....

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NTSB: Another Agency with Political Motivations?

Category: I-35 Bridge
Posted: 01/19/08 13:08, Edited: 01/19/08 13:24

by Dave Mindeman

I used to believe that the NTSB was one of the few really competent federal agencies. They seemed to handle investigations with meticulous accuracy. No detail was too small....no possibility dismissed. And, they were always careful to only release the facts. Speculation about final conclusions was always carefully avoided.

But then, silly me, I used to think that about FEMA, too.

The updated report from Board Chairman Mark Rosenker simply has some fundamental flaws. Reporting an original design flaw is certainly relevant, but the bridge functioned very well for 40 years and with at least 2 major upgrades along the way. Secondly, to dismiss maintenance issues as not part of the problem when there are glaring entries in inspection reports about corrosion to the gusset plates... to the point of losing half of their "inadequate" thickness, is simply not plausible.

Today, the Pioneer Press reports another troubling omission from Chairman Rosenker.

In 1996, an identical design problem helped cause a bridge along Interstate 90 over the Grand River in Ohio to sag. A later report done for the Ohio Department of Transportation concluded that the plates connecting the steel truss bridge's beams "were not adequate to support the design loads of the structure."

That report also found corrosion contributed to the failure - a factor widely speculated upon after the Aug. 1 collapse of the I-35W bridge but dismissed by Rosenker during a Washington, D.C., news conference Tuesday announcing the board's initial finding and recommendations.

Chairman Rosenker called the I-35 Bridge design problem "unprecedented" and probably a "one-of" a kind situation. Obviously, they didn't check thoroughly. Even though the NTSB did not officially investigate the Ohio bridge, the information was known to the agency. That is the kind of mistake that the NTSB, in the past, has always avoided.

But let's talk a minute about Mark Rosenker. He chairs an NTSB of 5 members....3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. According to NTSB guidelines, the board should have at least some members who have engineering backgrounds. Not one of the current 5 member board have those qualifications. That fact is also troubling since the NTSB has worked so closely with the investigative team that Governor Pawlenty hired to delve into the bridge collapse. You have to wonder who is working for whom.

In addition, Chairman Rosenker has a long and interesting resume working for 5 different Republican administrations and several national safety boards. One item that is left out of his "official" bio is that one of Rosenker's first jobs was working for CREEP. Yes, that CREEP...the Nixon Committee to Re-Elect the President. He joined the Bush administration in 2001 as a Defense Department liasion...appointed to the NTSB in 2003 and became Chairman in 2005.

The agency has had its share of turmoil. In July of 2005, Richard Healing resigned from the board, prompting this concern:

His (Healing) resignation leaves the board -- which investigates the causes of most major aviation, rail, marine, and other transportation accidents -- without a member who has a background in engineering or aviation. The lack of such expertise worries transportation safety advocates, who fear that the NTSB's effectiveness will drop. Healing's departure also comes amid some internal turmoil at the board that has employee representatives warning that morale has sunk to a new low.

Another former member, John Goglia, has expressed concern about the increasing political nature of the board:

Goglia, the former member, said he's concerned that a political desire to show safety improvements is driving the reduction in new recommendations. An outside aviation safety expert, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he thought that the reductions were designed "not necessarily to improve safety, but just to get the numbers down."

Wow, there's a surprise. Bush appointees making decisions based on partisan political agendas. You know, the only thing missing from all this is:

Heckuva job, Rosie.....
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MN 6th District: Who Will Represent the "Workingest" Families?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/17/08 21:26, Edited: 01/17/08 21:29

by Dave Mindeman

Michele Bachmann has a way with words doesn't she?

"I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We're the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs."

First of all, is "workingest" a word? ....Well, regardless, I am concerned that Ms. Bachmann has very little insight into the plight of the working class. To her, working 2 jobs to feed your family seems to be a "noble aspiration" rather than an economic necessity.

DFL Candidate Bob Olson didn't hesitate to call her out on this insult to Minnesota workers:

"Folks don't take extra hours or extra jobs for fun, congresswoman," said Olson in a statement. "They're trying to survive. If you got out and talked to real folks, not handpicked audiences, you'd realize that health care costs are soaring; that college tuition is beyond the reach of many deserving students; and that gas prices are putting a pinch on many families-resulting in higher prices at the grocery store."

Candidate Olson seems to understand that Minnesotans, who are part of the "workingest" class, are the ones that are handling his job interview. They are the ones who will decide whether Ms. Bachmann gets to continue to work for THEM. And they could very well decide that its time for the "President kisser" to be given an opportunity to hold down a few other jobs of her own.

Ms. Bachmann seems to have adapted to the Washington lifestyle a little too quickly. Working people are just part of the landscape.. they get her to her office, they shuffle her papers, they deliver her groceries, they print her Bibles, and they sell her those black dresses. They are not to be noticed....

Bob Olson gets it. Bachmann doesn't. But where's Elwyn Tinklenberg? I couldn't find any response from him. How would he weigh in? Last time I checked his website, he had no less than 20 different Union endorsements listed. If he truly represents their views, how could he allow Bachmann's swipe at the rank and file go unchallenged?

So, when working families in the 6th District ask, "Who will represent me?"

Bob Olson votes aye.
Michele Bachmann votes nay.
Elwyn Tinklenberg votes "absent".

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