Monday, April 28, 2008

Sam Thinks He Can . . . Change the Name of His Blog

With apologies to Bette Davis, fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night.

First, I've changed the name of the blog. It's now called Prairie Pondering. I still think I can, but the gimmick often leads to editorial awkwardness. I'm reducing impediments to posting more regularly; I don't need the hassle of writer's block when I'm coming up with a title.

Second, I'm moving towards shorter postings. I am committed to trading length for frequency. If you want longer, pass the blog along to your friends, make me famous and wait for the book. Better yet, read the postings of my mentor, Charles Leck. Charlie has a lot to say, he says it well and, now retired, has the time so as not to shortchange us in sharing his wisdom. Visit him here.

Third, what in Hell is going on in politics today? I was going to ponder the state of the campaign for the Democratic Party nomination to run for president. That will wait. On the way home from work, listening to Minnesota Public Radio describe the State Republican party's new ad campaign, I wanted to scream. The Republicans are spending $100,000 to run ads blaming the Democrats for higher gas prices because they voted to override the Governor's veto of the transportation bill and raised the State gas tax for the first time in 20 years.

Apparently, they did not read my March 13th blog. Here's the relevant part (skip it if you've already read it):

"Sherry Engebretsen, Artemio Trinidad-Mena, Julia Blackhawk, Patrick Holmes, Peter Hausmann, Paul Eickstadt, Greg Jolstad, Scott Sathers, Christina Sacorafas, Sadiya Sahal, Hanah Sahal, Vera Peck, Richard Chit

"Each of the persons identified above lost their life when the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007. For years, the State of Minnesota neglected recommended repairs to transportation infrastructure, including needed repairs to the now collapsed bridge. This month, over Governor Pawlenty's veto and just after the release of a legislative auditor's report that the Department of Transportation did not have sufficient funds to even maintain our roadways, the Minnesota Legislature passed a transportation funding bill that will ultimately cost gasoline consumers an extra 8-1/2 cents per gallon.

"Six Republican legislators voted their consciences and deviated from the party line by siding with the DFL to override the veto. Their principled decision has been rewarded by ostracism from the Republican caucus and, in some cases, challenges at what should have been cakewalk endorsing conventions. Governor Pawlenty and his supporters lost no time lambasting the 'tax and spend DFL' in a series of speeches and television advertisements (on Fox, of course), as if the Democrats had just used taxpayer money to purchase a warehouse full of Tommy Bahama khakis for a nudist convention.

"The recriminations against the proponents of the transportation bill were so strident, even I was concerned that I would not be able to afford to drive anymore. So I did the math, trying to figure out what necessities I would have to give up in order to make up for the extra tax burden.

"I get about 20 miles per gallon with my vehicle and drive about 20,000 miles a year. With those constants, I will pay about 54 cents a month in extra gas tax for each of the 13 lives lost when the bridge collapsed. In order to put this in perspective, I've identified exactly what impact this will have on my lifestyle. For convenience sake, I've assigned a sacrifice to each of the victims. That way, it's easy to determine if any particular life lost was not worth the sacrifice I am now forced to make in order to provide the Minnesota Department of Transportation with enough money to avoid another major disruption to free flowing traffic.

Sherry Engebretsen,
One (1) weekday edition Minneapolis Star Tribune per month
Artemio Trinidad-Mena,
One (1) pack Orbitz chewing gum every two months
Julia Blackhawk,
One (1) cup of coffee at Papa's Café every two months
Patrick Holmes,
Twenty (20) minutes parking at State Office Building per month
Peter Hausmann,
One (1) small soda, McDonald's every two months
Paul Eickstadt,
One (1) iTunes music download every two months
Greg Jolstad,
One (1) Powerball ticket every two months
Scott Sathers,
One (1) vending machine can of Coke Zero per month
Christina Sacorafas,
One (1) order of anchovies on restaurant salad per month
Sadiya Sahal,
Two (2) movie rentals from Coburn's per year
Hanah Sahal,
Ten (10) ounces of gasoline per month
Vera Peck, One (1) Almond Joy candy bar every two months
Richard Chit,
One (1) Exacta box bet at Canterbury Park per season

"The 10 ounces of gasoline per month attributed to Hanah Sahal might have propelled my car an additional 3 to 4 miles. Hanah was an infant when she died, probably not worth much. So, depending on where I might travel to with those 3 to 4 miles a month, I might be getting the short end of the stick. On the other hand, on balance, it appears that the value of the lives of the other 12 victims of the bridge collapse outweigh my sacrifice. And, since it might otherwise be me on the next bridge to go, I'm willing to do without the anchovies."

Now the Republicans are running their ads, demanding that the voters throw the tax-and-spend Democrats out of office for bringing Minnesotans $3.50/gallon gas. Never mind that the price of gasoline has gone from $2.90 to $3.50 a gallon since the veto override including, only, a 2¢ a gallon increase in taxes. Never mind that the State desperately needed a funding mechanism to pay for safe roads. Never mind that the folks in Hastings and St. Cloud will avoid bathing their cars in the Mississippi River because the money will be there to replace their dangerous bridges.

The Republican Party has decided to continue their proud tradition of pandering to people's fear, ignorance and reliance on 10 second soundbites posing as public discourse to cover up and project the consequences of their failed fiscal policies.

Don't let them do it. Copy and paste
Sherry Engebretsen, Artemio Trinidad-Mena, Julia Blackhawk, Patrick Holmes, Peter Hausmann, Paul Eickstadt, Greg Jolstad, Scott Sathers, Christina Sacorafas, Sadiya Sahal, Hanah Sahal, Vera Peck, Richard Chit into e-mail message boxes reached by clicking on the home page links of Senate Minority Leader David H. Senjem and House Minority Leader Marty Seifert. Put "I support the gas tax" in the subject line. After pasting the names of the bridge victims in the message box, insert: "These victims of the 35W bridge collapse don't mind the gas tax increase. Neither do I. Shame on you. Please respect my intelligence and stop confusing your use of blatant misrepresentations with acceptable campaigning."

If you have friends in the media or on the DFL side of the aisle, copy them on your e-mails. If Sen. Senjem and Rep. Seifert get enough copies, maybe they'll realize they proceed at their own risk and risk to the Republican Party.

Turns out it's too late to make a long story short. Less verbiage next time. Back me up here. I feel better already. I feel like President Harry Truman, a plain talker.


Danny said...

Sam, I'm literally laughing and crying at the same time.

You have given new meaning and perfect examples of what it really means to be "pro-life" and for "homeland security."

Great work. Thanks for sharing this blog with me.

Charles Leck said...

Sam, glad you're back. Glad, too, to read this particular blog. I will do exactly as you ask and I'll do it today. The email will go to a hundred or so folks.

You have worthwhile things to say to us and good reminders, so get to your blog as often as you can.

You know I'm a worrier. I'm worried sick about Obama's road bumps lately and I'm worried sick about Franken's tax mistakes. When I find your blog empty for too many days in a row, I worry myself sick about you, too.

Really glad your back.
Charlie Leck