Friday, May 29, 2009
I've been called up for Jury Duty twice- down in Atlanta. Both times I was dismissed. One time I made it all the way to questioning. The case was about a male professor who hit a female student at Emory with his car and she was suing for chiropractor bills many moons after the accident. They found out my husband was a resident physician in training and I mentioned my skepticism about certain aspects of chiropractic care and that was enough to dismiss me. Can you imagine if I would have said something like: "I believe that weight should be given to the fact that this was a white male professor hitting a minority female student"?
I just read this great article at National Review online which makes the case that Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor isn't even qualified to sit on a jury with her stated biases- let alone on the Supreme Court. If Republicans were wise, they'd fight this nomination, tie Sotomayor's ridiculous bigoted statements to Obama's views on race and then debate this thing. I'm not holding my breath.
And a quick FYI- here is the simple oath of office for our Supreme Court Justices:
"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."
Obviously Obama would be unfit to hold that office...as would most Democrats these days.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Gag. Newsweek- here's the article.
Here's what I learned in the piece:
The Manhattan-born Sotomayor's humble upbringing has shaped her personality — vibrant and colorful, and so different from the Bronx projects where she grew up in a working-class existence in a home with a drab yellow kitchen. She is a food-loving baseball buff as likely to eat a hot dog at a street corner stand as she is to sit down for a lengthy meal at a swanky Manhattan restaurant.
Sotomayor describes herself as "extraordinarily intense and very fun-loving."
She's also heralded as a hero for presumably single-handedly bringing "baseball back to the nation" during the 1995 players' strike.
She's just like Obama! She's just like one of us! Yea! Hurrah! What a great, fun lady- I'd like to have a drink with her.
Shoddy, WORTHLESS journalism. I'm left with no idea of what her politics are-- the word liberal, the word left, the word ideology for that matter-never used in the piece. As far as I can tell she's a centrist.
Contrast that piece with what the Tribune (below) wrote about Bush nominee Samuel Alito where the word "conservative" is used to describe the judge eight times- it's even in the headline! "Alito has a record of steady conservatism, reputation for civility". We are left with absolutely no doubt that Alito will rule like a conservative ideologue- even those at his high school say so!
Here's the article from the Chicago Tribune Oct 31, 2005 (day of the annoucement)
COPYRIGHT 2005 Chicago Tribune
Byline: Andrew Zajac WASHINGTON _ The 1972 Princeton University yearbook contains this self-authored entry for senior Samuel Alito: "Sam intends to go law school and eventually to warm a seat on the Supreme Court."
It was partly collegiate whimsy, but Alito was not alone in this high estimation of himself; his faculty adviser also saw in him a distinguished judicial career. And since then, his professional life as a lawyer and judge has been one long march forward for the son of an immigrant who is known for his unflinching but low-volume conservatism.
The 55-year-old federal appeals court judge nominated Monday by President Bush to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is perceived as a steady conservative with a pedigree as a Reagan-era government lawyer and a reputation for civility.
He holds in many respects the precise kinds of credentials that conservatives found lacking in Bush's initial pick, White House counsel Harriet Miers. Alito is a son of the Ivy League, Yale Law, a former federal appeals court clerk, and a longstanding member of the so-called judicial monastery that Bush earlier said he wanted to reach beyond to shape the court.
While Alito easily won confirmation to the federal appeals court in Newark, N.J., in 1990, this confirmation hearing promises to be a passionate fight over issues like abortion, where Alito has favored strong restrictions. It is one of many issues where Alito leans rightward, long endearing him to conservatives, but sure to inflame liberals during the confirmation process.
Until now, Alito has had an accomplished and largely non-controversial career. But because he is replacing O'Connor, the court's swing vote on many social issues, Alito's opinions will be combed line by line for deeper meaning, his speeches examined and his life story told and retold.
And he does have one apparent conflict-of-interest on his record. In 2002, a plaintiff complained after Alito issued an opinion favoring The Vanguard Group Inc. while owning hundreds of thousands of dollars of the firm's mutual funds. At the time, Alito said he believed he had done nothing improper.
But he had told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing a dozen years earlier that he would not rule on cases involving Vanguard.
Alito was nominated to the bench by the first President Bush in a batch of judicial candidates that included David Souter, who was under consideration for the appeals court slot that would serve as his springboard to the Supreme Court.
Now, in the ideological calculus of the high court, conservatives are betting on Alito, as O'Connor's replacement, to steer the court to the right.
Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" because of a perceived ideological resemblance to Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative members of the court, who, coincidentally, also was born in Trenton.
The parallels are not complete, since, among other things, Alito's manner and bearing are mild, particularly when compared to the often combative Scalia. But Alito's lengthy track record on the bench is consistently conservative, though friends and associates insist it has not been compiled through the pursuit of an ideological agenda.
Friends describe Alito as reserved but friendly, with a dry, self-deprecating sense of humor. In introducing his two children after being nominated by President Bush on Monday, Alito described them as the "pride of my life," adding that "they have made sure that being a judge has never gone to my head."
"He literally does not have an enemy in the world, unless it's some of the criminals he's prosecuted," said Charles Cooper, a Washington attorney who worked with Alito at the Justice Department. Alito also served as U.S. attorney in Newark before becoming a judge.
For all of his likability and self-effacement, Alito is not without ambition.
In a brief phone conversation Monday, Alito's 90-year-old mother, Rose, said her son was let down at not being nominated last month when Bush picked Miers. "He wanted it, definitely," Rose Alito said, adding that she could tell by "his attitude, he was disappointed" at being overlooked.
Alito grew up in a household that prized learning, with both of his parents trained as teachers. His sole sibling, Rosemary Alito, 52, is a well-regarded employment lawyer in New Jersey.
His late father, Samuel Alito Sr., was the first director of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, which provides staffing and research for the state legislature.
Born in Italy, the elder Alito was a skilled researcher with a reputation as an honest broker amid partisan statehouse turf fights, recalled Albert Porroni, the current director of the office. Samuel Alito Sr. was also an expert in the arcana of drawing legislative district borders, and his mastery of the subject in a federal court case would eventually give his son's legal career a boost.
Alito attended suburban public schools in Hamilton Township, a middle-class enclave outside Trenton.
At Steinert High School, Alito was valedictorian, editor of the school paper, a member of the state finalist debate team and a member of the track team.
He was a teacher's dream, tearing through Steinbeck, Hemingway and Dickens and requiring additional assignments to stay challenged, said Elaine Tarr, his 10th grade English teacher. "He never ever did anything slipshod. Never," said Tarr. "If it required a Piper Cub, he'd give you a Boeing 747."
Alito seemed preternaturally free of adolescent angst and he wasn't caught up in the social turmoil of the times. "He was always very rational, very emotionally in control," Tarr said. Even then, Tarr said, "I think he had a conservative point of view."
At Princeton, Alito was a debater and honor student who used his ability to read Italian to help craft a senior thesis on Italy's constitutional court.
While many of his classmates were caught up in protests and challenges to authority typical of the Vietnam era, the clean-cut Alito was a reserved deliberate and focused on his studies, said Walter Murphy, his faculty adviser.
"He pondered. He looked at the pros. He looked at the cons," recalled Murphy, who recognized judicial temperament when he saw it. "I made a prediction" to him, said Murphy, now retired and living in New Mexico. "One day Sam was going to be a judge.
" Following graduation from Princeton, Alito entered Yale Law School and joined the Army Reserve. He left Yale with a law degree in 1975 and stayed in the Reserve until 1980, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.
Alito began his legal career as a clerk to federal appeals court judge Leonard Garth and subsequently served as an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey before moving to the Justice Department.
Garth, a centrist Republican appointed by Richard Nixon, said he selected Alito out of perhaps 400 applicants in part because he remembered the thoughtful testimony of the elder Sam Alito in a reapportionment case. "The name struck a bell," Garth, now 85 and partly retired, said in a recent telephone interview. "I knew I wanted to interview him."
"I've had over 80 (clerks), and he pretty much tops the list," Garth said, adding that Alito also tops the list of judges in the circuit. "I think he is the brightest member of my court," Garth said.
Like others close to Alito, Garth said he has an economy of style, both in speaking and writing. "He's very reserved," Garth said. "He doesn't say anything unnecessary."
In a May interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, Alito described his sense of judicial boundaries. "Judges should be judges," he told the newspaper. "They shouldn't be legislators, they shouldn't be administrators."
Alito's wife, Martha, is a librarian. The couple's daughter, Laura, is a high school student and well-regarded competitive swimmer. Their son, Philip, is a college student.
An ardent fan of the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies, Alito attended a Phillies' fantasy camp and has displayed a baseball card of himself in a uniform. An applicant for a law clerkship was startled by a nearly life-size photo of Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt in Alito's chambers.
"He looked at me and said, `Do you know who that is?,'" recalled Cheryl Stanton.
Stanton blanked on the name but remembered that "he's one of the greatest third basemen of all time."
"He seemed tickled that I knew that," said Stanton, who was hired and worked for Alito in 1997 and 1998 and now is in private practice.
Like John Roberts Jr., who was sworn in as chief justice on Sept. 29, Alito earned his political and legal bona fides in President Reagan's Justice Department.
From 1981 until 1985, he was an assistant to the solicitor general, writing briefs, doing research and trying a dozen cases before the Supreme Court.
"The main thing that drew me to him was that he was a beautiful writer, not just the clarity but the aptness of expression," said Charles Fried, who served as solicitor general from 1985 through 1989 and now is a professor at Harvard Law School. The solicitor general's office represents the administration before the Supreme Court.Later, Alito spent two years in Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, where he provided legal advice to various administration agencies.
From 1987 until 1990, he served as U.S. Attorney in Newark, earning plaudits for his pursuit of mobsters and white-collar criminals.
When nominated to the appellate bench by the first President Bush in early 1990, Alito was enthusiastically endorsed by New Jersey senators Frank Lautenberg and Bill Bradley, both Democrats, and was approved by a unanimous voice vote in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Bradley told the Judiciary Committee that Alito excelled in every legal job he'd held and inspired colleagues in the U.S. Attorney's office "with a low-key sense of professionalism." Bradley also said that he was pleased "to back him 100 percent.
Right-leaning groups are unabashed in their endorsement of many of Alito's rulings in the 15 years since then, particularly on religious expression.
"He has always ranked near the top for us," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for the Washington-based Concerned Women for America, an organization whose stated goal is to protect and promote biblical values.
Among the decisions she cited: Alito's support for a Pennsylvania law requiring a woman to inform her husband before an abortion; his decision upholding Christmas displays on public property if secular and other symbols are there, too; and his support for an evangelical children's group that wanted to hold meetings in a public school.
Alito associates say that while he frequently comes down on the conservative side in his rulings, he does not do so as the result of an agenda. For example, Alito, unlike some federal judges, is not known for making a point of picking conservative clerks.
"My politics would be perceived as far to the left of his," said Mitu Gulati, who clerked for Alito in 1996-97 and described his one-time boss as "the fairest person I've ever met."
Gulati, a visiting professor at Duke University, and others who see a more complex jurist than merely a reliably conservative thinker, point to two episodes they say demonstrate Alito's independence.
In 2003, Alito headed a judicial committee that pushed to allow lawyers to bolster their cases by citing unpublished opinions issued by judges. "He's not a believer in the imperial judiciary," Gulati said.
Clark Lombardi, who clerked for Alito in 1999 and 2000, said that following the law sometimes will lead Alito to places that would disappoint some conservatives.
In 2000, for example, Alito dissented in a case in which the 3rd Circuit ruled against a phone company worker who asked for more time to pursue an employment discrimination case.
"In interpreting a statute ... we are not free to disregard Congress' approach in favor of one that seems better to us," he wrote in arguing that Congress intended to give grievants like the plaintiff, Madhat Zubi, four years instead of two years to pursue their claims.
Nan Aron, executive director of the left-leaning Alliance for Justice, finds none of this comforting. "He is a known ideologue who places many of our rights in great jeopardy," said Aron.
Aron pointed out that Alito appears to have a restrictive view of abortion rights and said that his dissent in a 1997 case, in which he argued that Congress did not have the power to restrict machine gun sales under the Constitution's Commerce Clause, suggests a limited view of the legislature's power to remedy social ills.
Jurisprudence aside, there is one known occasion on which Alito has been accused of an ethical lapse. In 2002, he issued an opinion in a 3-0 ruling dismissing a case brought by a woman suing Vanguard Group. At the time, Alito held between $390,000 and $930,000 of Vanguard's mutual funds, according to news accounts.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the case came before Alito due to computer error.
"The case should not have been sent to him," Perino said.
But Perino could not explain why Alito continued to participate in the case once he was aware that it involved Vanguard. "That's all I have for you," Perino said, adding that Alito has a record of unquestioned integrity.
Alito was quoted at the time as saying that he did not think he had a conflict because Vanguard managed $600 billion and the $170,000 at stake in the case was trivial by comparison.
In a questionnaire he filled out for the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was nominated to the bench in 1990, Alito had listed his Vanguard holdings and wrote that "I would ... disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies ... ." ___
(Chicago Tribune correspondents Mike Dorning and Cam Simpson contributed to this report.) ___ (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune. Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Why am I suprised? Why? There are other obvious problems when comparing the two pieces, a dissertation could be written....
Do you think the MSM will pick up on the video of Sotomayer saying that the courts are "where policy is made"-- do you think? Yeah, I don't think so either.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
"I want somebody who has the intellectual fire power, but also a little bit of a common touch and has a practical sense of how the world works,” Obama told C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully.
"A practical sense of how the world works?"-- like you, Mr. President? He always says what people want to hear and yet has absolutely no connection to the words he speaks.
He was on "Face the Nation" this morning and said that he supported Obama because he was "the most qualified to lead". More qualified than your fellow moderate and Republican critic John McCain? Come on. I mean- what Republican would have earned your support over Obama in 2008?
Hey Colin- newsflash- you can't wholeheartedly endorse the most liberal Senator in Washington and still be a Republican. You can't say that someone should be our President- someone who doesn't share one iota of our platform- and then say you're still a Republican.
Why would you want to be in our party anyway when you obviously have so much disdain for the base? It doesn't make sense.
Friday, May 22, 2009
City Manager Scott Neal gets his annual performance bonus. (3 hours 30 minutes into the linked video of this week's Council meeting).
He's presented as some saint for not taking a salary increase in these tough times, but the city negates that good will by granting him a performance bonus. Who- who- who is getting performance bonuses in 2009? I know who- the highest paid government employees- that's who. It looks so bad- it is so bad!
So a $4,723 total bonus to ensure that this "poor guy" doesn't take any cut in pay year over year. OK- so that's not a lot of money right? It's the principle, it's the principle. Our suburban City Manager already makes more than the Governor of this state- $20,000 more.
Bravo to Councilmembers Phil Young and Jon Duckstad for voting against this merit pay provision and for generally questioning merit pay bonuses for public employees.
It annoys me to no end that this guy sits up with the City Council at the meetings, it annoys me that he gives the "State of the City" address, it annoys me that he has a taxpayer funded blog to promote his agenda on the city website, it's really annoys me that he gets a $6,000 a year car allowance (is it 1990?) when he lives in Minneapolis. He has way too much power. I'm confident- completely confident- that you could replace him for about $80,000 a year- especially in this economy when so many great people are out looking for employment. Neal makes $140,000 a year- this is not his total compensation package.
I simply can't understand why- when they're laying off six employees from the city staff- that the majority of the Council would give him this bonus.
I take some comfort in knowing that Mr. Neal is a career-government employee and that EP is just a stop along his way to more money in a nice, comfortable public-sector job. If only the City wouldn't work so hard to make it so appealing for him to stay.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Rep. Alan Grayson was standing in the middle of Disney World when it hit him: What Americans really need is a week of paid vacation.
So on Thursday, the Florida Democrat will introduce the Paid Vacation Act — legislation that would be the first to make paid vacation time a requirement under federal law.
The bill would require companies with more than 100 employees to offer a week of paid vacation for both full-time and part-time employees after they’ve put in a year on the job. Three years after the effective date of the law, those same companies would be required to provide two weeks of paid vacation, and companies with 50 or more employees would have to provide one week.
The idea: More vacation will stimulate the economy through fewer sick days, better productivity and happier employees.
“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” said Grayson, a freshman who counts Orlando as part of his home district. “Honestly, as much as I appreciate this job and as much as I enjoy it, the best days of my life are and always have been the days I’m on vacation.” Read more: "
Alan Grayson to introduce Paid Vacation Act - Erika Lovley - POLITICO.com" - http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22794.html#ixzz0G9SatnO7&A
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
John S. McCain the moderate elephant is in his Navy Finery- and a print from online in a Target frame hangs above the dresser (scale is way-off- there is no cute elephant art online!!) Holding out for some cute plates to flank...
My very talented MIL designed and made the adorable twin-elephant quilts. I love them.
Tom and Mike will soon outgrow this baby room, but it's been fun to decorate with a bit of old and new. Our party mascot is the best-- can you imagine a nursery filled with jackasses??
I heard on the radio today that the Obama administration cut the ad budget for Chrysler and couldn't believe it. Are we living in a communist country?
Who do they think they are?
Obama has never worked a day in his life in the business world yet thinks he knows how to fix a car company.
They are whining that there's been no public input...um, you ran around the state gathering public input for months and hint: you are publicly elected officials who represent public input.
Our household breathes a sigh of relief that we bought at least one more year of not paying one of the highest tax rates in the nation. Our Minnesota tax bills are already absolutely outrageous and both the DFL and GOP wanted even more of our money. The DFL wanted another $6,000 or so (not including their mortgage deduction plan which would have added another huge amount of money to that number).
And the Governor wanted another $5,000 or so-- Little known fact, Governor Pawlenty wanted to raise the "Provider Tax" on physicians to 2% of gross billings and dump it into the general fund, so when people say there were no tax hikes in his original budget proposal, they were wrong. There is no "provider tax" on lawyers- of course. Not on dentists, or accountants or any other profession- just doctors.
So we are able to keep $10,000+ of our money.
The interesting thing is- is that even if they got their way- and got that money- it still wouldn't be enough to support even one welfare mom with one child in this state for one year. Think about that. There are only so many "rich" people to take more from and even if they all got their way- it still wouldn't do the trick. The spending is simply, factually unsustainable.
The sad part about this session is that there was so little talk of reform from both sides. Of course I blame the DFL for this because putting a budget together months ahead, instead of days ahead, could have led to some of this conversation.
No education reform conversation. We can do so much better in this state, we should be leading the nation in a conversation about education funding and innovation to have the best system in the country. Redefine public education as we know it. It can be done and we could get all-sides on board. No real healthcare reform conversation. No welfare reform conversation. Nothng.
The DFL just wants to dump more money at problems and tax more to get the money. It's really sad. These are supposed to be smart people, right?
"Tax the rich"-- that's all that progressives have right now-- "they wouldn't let us tax the rich, that's why we failed"
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Because the school followed the prescribed process, board member Anne Carroll said she'll likely vote to approve the change. She said when one board member asked her, "Well, what if they had come up with Ronald Reagan High School?" she replied, "Well, I would hold my nose" and vote for it, if they followed the process.
"If [Obama] turns out to be the most awful president on the planet, and we're embarrassed to have his name associated with us, then we'll change it back," she said.
My sister reported on this farse a while I was out-- the most stunning finding to me is that a bunch of elementary school students are the ones forcing this change (led by their liberal principal of course).
"Students, staff and St. Paul residents were invited to cast ballots Thursday. The Obama name came away with roughly 60 percent of the 854 votes cast."
Staff voted slightly in favor of keeping the Webster name, 57-43
All St. Paul residents were invited to vote, but only 59 did. That group slightly favored the Webster name (34-25).
Parents of Webster students favored Obama, 30-12. That means that the other 653 votes were cast by students (I've sent these number to Acorn and am awaiting confirmation).
Why don't we just let all students across the state re-name their schools with 2 names on the ballot?
Vote for one:
Eden Lake Elementary or
Jonas Brother Learning Academy
What a joke.
Friday, May 15, 2009
From today's Pioneer Press:
If the Legislature won't balance the budget, Gov. Tim Pawlenty will do it all by himself.
And he will do it without a special session, a government shutdown or a tax increase.
Pawlenty said Thursday he will use vetoes and his power to single-handedly reduce spending to slash up to $3 billion from Minnesota's next two-year budget.
"I'm here to let all Minnesotans know that this year, politics as usual around this place is over," he said at a Capitol news conference.
"There will be no special session. There will be no government shutdown. And there will be a budget that lives within the means of Minnesota's taxpayers and the revenues available to the state of Minnesota."
The governor's action came after Democratic-Farmer-Labor majorities in the House and Senate passed budget bills that leave a $3 billion gap between spending and the amount of revenue the state will collect over the next two years.
The Legislature passed budget bills that spend $34 billion during that period, when the state is expected to collect $31 billion.
He said he would make the biggest cuts in publicly subsidized health care, welfare, social services, state aid to cities and counties and "probably a little bit in higher education."
A "significant" number of state employees will be laid off, he said. And he will veto "numerous" projects in the $300 million public works bill the Legislature passed Wednesday.
He said he would try to protect public schools from state aid cuts, but he indicated some school payments would be delayed.
DFL legislators were incensed.
"This is a democracy. It's not a monarchy," said Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, called Pawlenty "Governor Go-It-Alone" and accused him of a "little bullying." She demanded he tell the public what he's going to cut.
"There will be no public input. There will just be a governor alone with unelected people whispering in his ear of what to cut and what not to cut," she said.
She asked Pawlenty to tell legislators today what he plans to cut, and she said she would hold public hearings on those cuts.
The DFL is laughable- they had a multi-city Misery Tour to get public input back in February an then waited two more months to get a budget passed to negotiate from....It's done. If you can't balance a budget without raising taxes in this economy...then it will be done for you. Like a bunch of teenager's with mommy and daddy's credit card spending away.
I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Mrs Obama said: "I have wanted to do this from day one, the notion of standing in this room and hearing some poetry."
The press is so excited about her asymetrical top, but look at those bottoms. Who is dressing her?
Trying SO hard to be the new Kennedys with poetry and designer fashions at the White House. How many more years of this??
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We purposely bought in our neighborhood because it was one that allowed fences to be built on the lots. We like our privacy and we had a large dog who wasn't very friendly to strangers. We had to put him to sleep 3 months after we moved in when he bit a good friend of mine. It was the most awful thing, but it had to be done.
We have lots of wildlife- ducks, muskrats, owls, etc- that have come into the yard- we even had a large buck trot right down the middle of our street a couple of years ago- but this is a first and it really scares me. We have a pretty steep lot down to the creek (unusable land for us, but provides a lot of tree coverage)....it took some effort to climb up that slope and jump a fence- he must have been chasing something.
A neighbor in an adjacent neighborhood had a coyote in their yard last summer in the early evening and Todd saw one crossing the street on Sunnybrook Road about a year ago, another friend saw one crossing Franlo Road recently-- seems obvious that we have a problem. I enjoy Minnesota wildlife (well except Canadian Geese) but when they're bold enough to jump fences-- it needs to be addressed. Also- these coyotes are new to the area- we didn't move to their territory- they're moving to ours.
A resident wrote a letter to the editor last year in the EP News about this problem when somebody saw a coyote jump her fence (she has two small dogs).
According to my research around the web and a phone call to the DNR- it's up to local law enforcement agencies to deal with the problem- leaving a wide variety of solutions depending on where you live. They are not a protected animal- so it's legal to have them killed.
In Red Wing, MN- the City voted a couple years ago to immediately trap and kill 10-20 coyotes that were in residential neighborhoods.
In Blaine- the City paid $1,500 to have five coyotes removed from a park.
In Minnetonka- the City Police department is keeping track of sightings and encounters. They encourage residents to call 911 if they encounter an aggressive coyote.
In Plymouth- they receive 6 calls a week from residents about coyotes in their yards.
In Madison, WI they're calling in the feds for Madison neighborhoods being affected by coyotes.
In Eagan- two coyotes attacked a small dog (who had been attacked twice previously by coyotes), that had to be euthanized this March. One of their Animal Control officers said this about the incident:
“Coyotes have become well adapted to suburban living, and are a sign that Eagan has a healthy ecosystem that can easily support all types of animals,” she wrote.
Oh, that's nice. The suburbs of the Twin Cities are not the natural habitat of these predators- according to a WCCO article from March-
Wildlife experts said the number of coyotes has increased in the suburbs because their comfort level has increased. As humans continue to build in their habitat, coyotes are coming to us for food.
The City of EP seems to take a laid-back approach- per it's website:
Typically, coyotes are opportunistic hunters and will take advantage of the easiest and most available food sources. This includes many different types of food ranging from garbage to small mammals and birds. Unfortunately, theymay infrequently also prey on domestic cats or small dogs so it’s always a good idea to monitor your pet while it's outside, even if you aren’t aware of anything in your area.
Although coyotes can be a threat to domestic pets, they are not a threat to humans. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there has never been a documented coyote attack on a human in Minnesota. Statistics from around the country show people are far more likely to be bitten by a domestic dog than to be bitten by a coyote.
Well- that's comforting. Of course coyotes have attacked people in other parts of the country where they are overpopulated. Just a year ago in residential areas of California- coyotes attacked three toddlers in three separate incidences including dragging children from their yards and a local playground.
I decided to call the City today. I left a message and quickly got a call back from a gentleman in Animal Control this morning- he tells me that they get these coyote sighting calls, but they don't do anything with the information. There's no plan by the city to address the problem. I ask if I can shoot the coyote if it's on my property- "No"- Can I shoot him with a bee-bee gun? "No, you can't shoot a gun in Eden Prairie"-- "I can't shoot a gun in Eden Prairie? Sure I can."-- "Not without a permit"- "Oh, a permit to shoot the coyote?"- "Yes, and you won't get one- you need like 80 acres of land". (Actually it's 40 acres).
I ask about how many calls they get a month- he guesses about 12. For a full year- that's a lot of sightings- and let's assume that many other people don't even call.
The guy tries to compare the coyotes to rattlesnakes, etc- I cut him off "A snake is not the same as a coyote and I see that your website says they haven't attacked humans in MN- but that doesn't mean they haven't in other states"-- the guy concurs and gives me another name of somebody to call at City Hall. Okay....I left that person a message this afternoon and I'll keep you posted on what he says.
An interesting exercise so far- I've learned that the City of Eden Prairie has 1989 Ordinance and a permit process to discharge a firearm, but isn't that negated by this last provision?
Subd. 6. Lawful Defense of Person, Property or Family. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit any firing of a gun, pistol or other weapon when done in lawful defense of person, property or family or by law enforcement personnel executing their official duties.
Oh- that pesky 2nd Amendment. I have no intention of sitting on my back deck with a double-barrel shotgun looking for critters to shoot- but if one of these predators comes in my backyard again when my kids are outside, I'd like to know my recourse-- besides hanging my Marc Jacobs coyote trimmed winter coat along my back fenceline....
Seems to me that the DNR needs to step in with an overall plan to control the growing coyote population in the suburbs and knock-off the P.C. attitude that these predators aren't a problem.
Monday, May 11, 2009
From the piece:
Two weeks ago there was a commentary in the Eden Prairie News about City Manager Scott Neal’s compensation.
The argument was made that at a time when many of our citizens are freezing or decreasing wages, we should not be increasing compensation for our public employees, especially considering some of the perks included in Mr. Neal’s contract.
The same argument could be made regarding the Eden Prairie School Superintendent, Dr. Melissa Krull.
Dr. Krull could potentially receive on average approximately $225,000 per year.
I sure hope some of these active parents will field a school board candidate- goodness knows there's discontent with Jim Mortenson- one of the Board Members up for re-election this fall. The guy who made the proposal to move public comments from the beginning of school board meetings to the end...a true proponent for open government I'd say!
I support a major consolidation of state education resources by drastically cutting administrative costs by consolidating school districts while mantaning more active, powerful local school boards. If Krull alone is taking in that much money in one Minnesota school district then think about how much money we spend on administration when Minnesota has:
"339 independent school districts, three intermediate districts, five integration districts, 17 education districts, four tribal schools, 20 cooperative districts, 9 telecommunications districts, and 136 charter schools."
But- hey- that's just me. With the Teacher's Union promoting the continued lie that more funding = lower class sizes vs. more bureaucracy- I doubt many would buy into such a radical change to the way we fund School Districts.
I continue to be amazed by the fact that public-sector employees continue to receive raises year after year in spite of a bad economy. Obviously this isn't true for everybody. I know a longtime hourly employee for the City of Eden Prairie who informed me last week that their department head is telling all employees that there is a salary freeze in place- while at the same time hiring new hourly employees at higher hourly rates than people who have been there for years.
Is there a salary freeze for hourly employees at the city? Scott Neal, City Manager, has asked departments to propose budgets with spending cuts- isn't that funny when he himself hasn't taken any cut to his $138,000 a year job?
It was my understanding that the Eden Prairie Taxpayer's Alliance had proposed salary freezes for those at the top- not those at the bottom. It's unfortunate that those at the top of the public dole have no problem taking these raises while they issue edicts to departments to cut their staffs' pay.
Thanks to my sister Mary for blogging- she'll have guest access to post whenever the mood strikes- I enjoyed reading all of her pieces- didn't you?
I'm going to cheat with my first few posts and just point you to things I've been reading while laid up. Little sleep isn't the best for a blogging brain- but I promise some deeper stuff soon.
I'm so happy about the beautiful- perfect weather. Sunny and 60's- my absolute favorite.
I'm excited about having two little boys too- the final names?
Michael Todd Kihne and Thomas Reagan Kihne :)
Mike is on his Boppy pillow right next to me- the tapping of keys may become a familiar sound to my little guys.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Of course, the Star-Trib reporter didn't bother to ask the question--so this duty falls upon The Activist. I mean--aren't you kind of kind of curious? I was.
So who, exactly, is Daniel Webster? The “statesmen” that St. Paul’s Webster Elementary School was named after? Obviously, he can’t be anybody important. I mean, they are just getting rid of his name. Is this Daniel Webster? The guy that made this speech? I will leave it up to you, readers, to bring any ironies to light. I guess it doesn't matter. Because this isn't about Daniel Webster. IMHO, this is about an opportunistic Principal with a political agenda who wants publicity.
And the publicity really isn't about the name, per se, it's about the liberal Service School Movement behind it.
From and MPR article in April:
Leaders at Webster Magnet School say they want their name change to reflect the school's renewed focus on teaching students about community service. One name being considered is the "Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary School."
Wondering what a “Service School" is?
Under Webster's online school newsletter’s “Service Spotlight”, we get a better feel for what this model looks like at a micro level:
- Webster Staff & Students Present at Congressional Field Hearing with Representative Betty McCollum AND Visit by Senator Amy Klobuchar Staff
- Recently, Webster’s principal, staff and Club Leadership Executive Board students presented to Representative Betty McCollum at a Congressional Field Hearing on Service-learning.
- The students helped to plant trees in memory of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. During the presentation, students had the opportunity to share how their service-learning projects have helped the community, and helped them to develop leadership skills.
- Last Friday, April 24, was Global Youth Service Day. Our Webster students cleaned up our entire school grounds and extended their work into some our surrounding community. Joining some of the classes were several staff from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s offices in Minnesota and Washington, D.C.
Let me tell you something. As the mother of two elementary school kids and the friend to several teachers, this is NOT what children this age need to be doing. Especially if they are attending a failing school. They need to focus on the fundamentals so they have a shot at being good students for the duration of their years in school. My kids have great teachers but even the best teacher at the best school can only do so much. With 20 + kids in a classroom, they teach to meet standards. The students that exceed standards typically have a solid skill foundation (reading and math). This gives them the confidence to do more. Kids get a break from the grind through their “specials”…art, Phy-ed, music, occasional events/speakers, computer class After seeing this, I have a new appreciation for what my kids are doing from 7:50 am to 2:20 pm every day. This seems like stuff that junior high kids should be doing on their own time as a part of a community or religious youth group. I’m shocked. I know that I shouldn't be. But I am. I really am.
So, they want to change their name to reflect their Service designation?
And the information above should clue you in about what, exactly, that means. They aren't visiting Veteran's hospitals or planting trees to honor the victims of 9/11, they are rubbing elbows with all the local liberal politicians.
It looks like the school’s Principal, Lori Simon, and her buddy Betty McCollum are quite the movers and shakers in the Service Education movement (and, make no mistake, it is a movement). If the liberals have their way, people who "serve" in this way will have the same benefits/pay/pension as our military members. That's where this whole thing it going.
In my opinion, these schools are just feeder programs for Americorps and its baby sister the well-funded Minnesota Reading Corps. From Webster's website:
Join Webster Minnesota Reading Corps as we Expand! Webster Magnet School needs you! We have openings for 6 members for 2009-2010 (1 pre-K, 5 K-3)
• Help Minnesota kids learn to read
• Receive a living allowance, health care and child care if eligible
• Great experience and money for school
• Must be high school graduate
"Money for school." Where have I heard that before. Oh yeah, that was a big military promotional slogan back in the 1980s-early 1990s.
So..that is what is going on behind the scenes at Webster. That is the stated catalyst for fast name change. It started to hit the press in early April. Here's how it played out:
"I did a survey with staff and our parents to find out if there enough support to even consider looking at a name other than Webster," Simon said, in an interview. "77% of my staff indicated some level of support and 85% of parents did."
Two names went on the ballot:
- "Webster Service Learning Elementary"
- "Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary"
Barack Obama was elected in January. By April, the Principal was talking to the press. The final decison will be made May 19th. The school is 100+ years old. Why on earth does this have to happen at lightening speed? And with the economy in the tank and people hurting, n0 matter which name they choose, it's going to cost money to change signage, systems, and materials--is this really necessary? RIGHT NOW?
It's all smoke and mirrors.
Any dimwit knows that if Ms. Simon really wanted the name to reflect the school's program, she would simply pick #1. It would have been much easier and it would have made sense. It woul have saved the time spend running a big CYA community election.
But, then again, it also wouldn't have garnered any publicity.
The election process is it's own CYA and done as a "school project." Principal Simon says:
"The actual election was run by third graders and their teachers as part of a service project - and the students took it seriously. 'Observing the process, you would have thought you were at the polls at a normal election.'
But I'm confused by this. Didn't these children already have this experience in November during the presidential election? Isn't this a redundant lesson? I'm no expert in elementary school curriculum but this seems like overkill.
Also, did this really reflect a "normal election." In most normal elections, there are two or more campaigns. Did the Principal and other "influencers" offer the children a balanced look at the two alternatives? Did they present the children with a history of the school’s namesake? Did they talk about the alumni-aspect of the equation?
My feeling is that these kids simply aren't old enough to understand the magnitude of stripping a school of its name. They don't get the political part of this little lesson. And this just isn't right. Because, ultimately, the kids determined the results. An MPR article shows the actual breakdown:
"Students, staff and St. Paul residents were invited to cast ballots Thursday. The Obama name came away with roughly 60 percent of the 854 votes cast."
- Staff voted slightly in favor of keeping the Webster name, 57-43
- All St. Paul residents were invited to vote, but only 59 did. That group slightly favored the Webster name (34-25).
- Parents of Webster students favored Obama, 30-12.
Although the name has not officially been changed yet, that will happen on May 19th, when the School Board takes a final vote. But make no mistake--unless there is public outcry, Daniel Webster’s name will be taken off the school.
"The only person brave enough to stand up, thus far, is Board member Tom Conlon, the board's sole Republican, said he plans to vote against the name change. He thinks naming schools after politicians -- Republican or Democratic -- should come at the end of a politician's career, or even life, and pointed to "Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary" in downtown St. Paul as an example." (Strib)
Contact him via his website, and tell him to keep up the fight!
And if you want to get in on the conversation, check out this St. Paul issues forum. Just be careful, the moderator is already accusing people of racist comments.
P.S. if you are really bored, you can check out the 3,000,000 slides on the school's website to see Ms. Simon's little election.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Poor thing. When you get to be our age, it is kind of just another day. Especially with kids and work and everything else. But we pulled it off. Jon picked out a new bike at Target (like a six year old) and hid it in the garage. I went to Dicks after work and bought him an Adidas track shirt (the clerk--I'm 99% sure she was an Obama voter--didn't speak to me once during the entire transaction. In fact, when I approached the registry, she didn't say a word to me but pointed to another registry...a sign for me to follow her I guess). He feigned delight and surprise and blew out the candles.
After the kids were FINALLY in bed, we went outside to have a birthday drink. That's when he told me about Jug Head.
He picked the story up from his favorite site http://www.instapundit.com/.
Apparently, some guy was at a dinner party and the topic of JugHead's weird crown came up. Nobody could figure out why JugHead wore a crown when all the other Archie's wore "normal" hats.
Well, the group talked about it and decided that answers could be found on the Net.
The question haunted him. So, he did some investigative journalism.
And he came up with this great piece--which is getting tons of traffic.
Didn't want to read it - figured it another one of Jon's weird things...but he was insistant; so I did.
I am always amazed at what a curious mind can uncover. Especially with the Internet available to Google and Triple Google and connect the dots.
Thus, thanks to a regular dude's curiousity, we know exactly why JugHead wore a crown. We know the history. We even have pictures that support the answer. This guy wanted the answer, so he dug and dug - no paycheck, just the joy of the chase...
Yet, somehow, our own "professional" press corps, never managed to answer any of the questions we (I?) had about Barack Obama during the election. Things like:
-What did Obama do in Pakistan a month during college with his Pakistani buddies (besides learn to pronounce PALK-I-STON)?
-Why did Barack move back to Chicago...he had no ties to Chicago. Why Chicago?
-If Bill Ayers is just a 'guy in my neighborhood' why did he chose Obama to lead the Annenberg Challenge project and dole out $49M+ worth of money to schools based on their "philosophy"?-
-What was Barack doing during the Columbia years? (Didyou know that Bill Ayers was attending courses at an adjacent college at the same time? Is it remotely possible that they met in NYC?)
-Did Michelle Obama meet Ayer's wife Bernadine Dohrn in the late 80s when they both worked at the same law firm in Chicago? (wondering how Bernadine the Bomber got a job? Ayer's father did business with one of the partners and called in a favor for his DIL)
-Do people know that the foundation that Barack served on shelled out money to Reverend Wright's church?
-How did Obama get into Harvard Law School? Did you know that a "special favor" was called in? By a Saudi buddy?
The unanswered questions still knaw at me. But what knaws at me even more is the fact that the press was (is, and will always be) so in the tank, that they didn't even think to ask the questions in the first place. Zero curiosity. And now that the democrats have all the power, they are going to try and spin the Fairness Doctrine to silence anybody who dares to upset the apple cart.
Well, it's water under the bridge now. So be it. But the bottom line is that I now know more about the facts of some cartoonist's headpiece on a period character than I do about the man who's running the country. It would be funny, if it weren't so wrong.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Here's one that caught my eye:
Somebody forwarded Shoz a link to a new online "Lifestyle" website complete with shopping tips and recipes. Prairie Home Living. I could see that Sheila would be interested in a quality local blog. But she wouldn't save it in her Top Secret Activist files. So, I looked through it for a few minutes to see if there was something else there:
-I see a recipe
-Local shops, etc
-Cover of "The Blue Zone book"--written by Minnesotan Dan Buettner. I know this book well. I booked him for a nationally-syndicated radio show and he forgot about it!
But the content is pretty thin.
And it's not a blog. Just kind of a non-live website with a bunch of stuff on it. But the tabbing is aggressive. The owner wants to cover a lot of categories and will most likely do so through contributors.
And it's just regular stuff. I'm about to trade it in for www.instapundit.com but wait...
Wait...hmmm....now what have we here?
An interview with a reporter (who--like all reporters--is "pondering" writing a book...) from MinnPost. Snippet:
Q: "Out of all the local news media coverage of the Recount, your column is the most humanizing. Has your coverage of the Recount changed the way you view our judicial system, the election process or politics in general?"
A: "Not really. I’ve always been a fan of government. I’ve covered the Legislature over about a half-dozen sessions when I was at the Star Tribune, following stadium issues. I’ve always been impressed with how hard most legislators work."
"Fan of government?" My God, I've died and gone to heaven. Did somebody actually SAY that outloud. I LOVE It!
Stuff about The Environmental Defense Fund and links to commercials about Global Warming (obviously they didn't get the re-branding memo...)
Now I know why Sheila kept it. This blog is not a "lifestyle" blog -- it's a political blog disguised as a "lifestyle" blog. Nothing that a non-political junkie would pick up on immediately. But anybody with a brain would "get it" after looking around a bit.
And after digging around a little more I notice that the more political articles are much more thorough than the recipes and decorating features (The toy storage cube as a feature? Uh, we know). The quality of the writing and content is better and the featured guests are well thought out (although it's all fluff. No hard-hitting Katie Couric journalism here.)
Hmmm. Do we have a little lefty suburban reporter in disguise? An active DFL-er with easy access to local "movers and shakers?" It's so cute! I MUST know more.
I know that the libs want their "share" of the active SAHM Mommy blogger network. The women who cook, shop, stay home, decorate, etc. What they don't understand is that most of the women interested in lifestyle blogs are usually conservative women. And I just don't know if anybody thinks a local politician is interesting enough to see their "personal side." I don't spend my free time wondering what my Alpharetta City Council people are doing on their Saturdays.
But, since I am such a wonderful, giving person...I wanted to offer some unsolicited advice to the author of this new website (whoever you are). Here it is:
-Say what the blog is. I would suggest a slight re-positioning that adds a tag line to your name- "Prairie Home Living...A Lifestyle Blog for the Progressive EP Woman." If that's what you want to be. But if you are serious about filling up all those pages via a contributors network of like-minded people, you may want to really think about the tag line. I'm available for consulting on that but you'd have to pay me.
-I would seriously reconsider limiting your audience to Eden Prairie. I looked at your ad rates and--while they are reasonable--you won't be able to make any real money off a site with such a limited reach. And, your advertisers will go away if they don't get traffic. Even if they are only paying you $90.
-Focus on reach. Even with 1 million hits a month, selling any major ads is difficult. It is all about unique visitors. Even if you get 100 loyal readers who hit your blog 100 times a day, advertisers want 1,000,000 readers who hit your site every day...not matter who they are, where they come from, or how often they come back. Can you get these numbers with such a narrow target?
-Small lifestyle sites can become huge if you have a unique voice and allow the reader to be a voyeur into your world. Note that http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/ was approached by Walmart for sponsorship. But her site is incredible. But we see life through her eyes. We feel like we know her. She is our friend and we trust her. We want a piece--just a piece--of her romantic lifestyle. Even if it is for 10 minutes between changing diapers and unloading groceries.
-To that end, you can't just be a lifestyle site. But you know this. You know that it's not enough. You are a site that has a political agenda. I don't need to see an article about Global Warming to know that--I could tell when I saw the feature about "Making Your Own Flour." That's fine. But say so. Be honest about who you are, what your angle is and make everything on your blog support that positioning. Your recipes. Decorating. Fashion. For example, your fashion should be aimed at your target audience--liberal women. This will help your advertising. Since liberal women like to wear expensive glasses, you could approach a high-end local optical stores. Eventually, maybe you could get Keen sandals to be a sponsor! The possibilities are endless!
Well, I hope that I haven't overstepped by hijacking Sheila's back-up topics. And before you ask yourselves or dare ask me via the comments who the hell I think I am throwing in my opinion, know that I feel entitled to give advice because I am a consumer of this type of information.
That being said, if you are just doing the blog for fun, please disregard the above. It's none of my business anyways and I don't even live in the state!
Now I must go. I burned Jon's birthday cake. A little less blogging a little more baking.
Headline: "Is the press showing more respect for Obama than Bush?"
Extra points to anybody who can tell me where my title came from.
I'll give you three hints:
Monday, May 4, 2009
...Because education should have no boundaries...and no walls.
...Where there IS such thing as a free lunch--whether you need it or not.
PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR SLOGANS. PERHAPS THERE WILL BE A PRIZE. PERHAPS THERE WON'T BE.
Thanks to reader Bob Dole for this link...
And we all offer our condolences at the loss of Jack Kemp--your running mate.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The People list is always kind of annoying. George Clooney and Brad Pitt's running joke about who is more handsome. Puke already.
I' m not going to talk about Michelle Obama's looks. It's all so subjective. Sheila and I both think she is cute. Other friends don't. Whatever. Who cares. I sure wouldn't want people commenting about my looks in the blogosphere. Fashion...well that's fair game.
"I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don't hear it. But I was fortunate."
I completely agree with this statment.
I know many women who grew up with their fathers (or mothers) picking on their weight. Or pointing out their blemishes. Or just ignoring them in general. Perhaps it was just how things were back in the day. I think there were good things about the "Get in the basement when adults come over" days. I think that our culture has become extremely kid-centric. It is a fine line.
But it goes without saying that little girls need to be built up by their fathers. The focus should be on their intelligence, personality, and accomplishments. If they are well-behaved, tell them. If they do something they are proud of, ask them about it. If THEY think they are funny, laugh at their jokes. I know a handful of women who had this type of father and you can tell. You can totally tell. I see Jon with Holly and know that she is having a completely different experience than I had during my childhood (or most women of my "vintage" had).
So, as sick as I am of Michelle's fashion being shoved down my throat, I will give credit where credit is due. Perhaps what is most "All American" about Michelle is her family and upbringing.
Now, what DOES make me really mad is seeing Tina Fey's name on the list. Again, I'm not going to comment on what I think of her looks. But here is the obvious question:
If Tina Fey's name is on the list, shouldn't Sarah Palin's be?
See a gallery preview here
I guess we are re-branding the phrase "Global Warming." What were we JUST talking about?
From the NYT:
The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington
It also brings this equally disturbing image to mind.
You definitely need to read this entire article from the NYT.
"The promotion of the brand called Obama is a case study of where the American marketplace -- and, potentially, the global one -- is moving. His openness to the way consumers today communicate with one another, his recognition of their desire for authentic "products," and his understanding of the need for a new global image -- all are valuable signals for marketers everywhere.
"Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand," says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. "New, different, and attractive. That's as good as it gets."
(Disclaimer: I'm not an expert in "brand" and I don't even know if this is the current/cool word to use. I know that Liz and others who read this website know a lot more about brand than I do-- forgive my simplistic view and correct me if need be! But here goes...)
I'm a visual person. So when I think about "brand" the first thing that comes to mind is a logo and corporate identity. Look-and-Feel. Of course, I know from my work that creating a brand requires a keen understanding of the product/service that you are selling as well as the audience that you are selling to. You can't position properly without going through the appropriate steps and doing competitive analysis.
No, unfortunately I didn't learn any of this working as a secretary at Young and Rubicam in The Army Group from 1989-1991. That was more about ordering sack lunches and typing up letters since email was only used internally. But I did learn that those cool storyboards that the copywriters and art directors produced came after the researchers and account managers did their thing. Sometimes, when I was bored, I actually read the memos I typed for the big-wig Group Manager that I worked for. He was kind of a sedentary intellect. He left his wife for a younger woman who worked on another floor of the buiding. After he did the NYT crossword puzzle everyday, he would field phone calls from his counterparts in the Army organization. And when there was a problem, Y&Rs CEO would call him and I would run around like a madwoman trying to find him. He would run his plump-butt so fast to his office I feared he'd have a heart attack. Did I mention he was a Canadian?
Since there were no jobs in advertising when I returned to Minneapolis in 1991, I ended up taking another path. I worked my way up the ladder at local architecture/engineering firms. It was the perfect match for my skill set. I wasn't creative, clever, or competitive enough to stand out at Fallon McElligott or Campbell Mithun. My friends worked in those agencies and put in long hours. The glamour came at a price! I stood out well enough against the pocket protectors and bowties. And I got to be around expensive furniture and fixtures. So that was good.
Professional service firms rarely understand branding. They are all about cranking out proposals. They don't hire advertising agencies. But with some convincing they are willing to invest--hmmm--between $25K and 100,000K for a new logo and slick marketing materials. But without shelling out big bucks for a comprehensive approach they don't know what to do with their positioning once it is articulated. That's where strategic thinkers come into play. They are the people who know how to create metrics that "lift and seperate" the brand from competition. And, like a good bra, a good brand does this without looking fake or seeming obvious. You notice the "whole" not the "parts"...if you know what I mean.
My husband is an advertising junkie. I could be telling him that I had a week left to live and he will block me out if there is a commercial on TV. It can be a commercial we've seen a dozen times before. It can be a commercial for a Billy May product or the Billy May Wannabe ShamWow dude. It drives me nuts. I am much more fascinated with brands that seep into our lives and take a simple or dumb idea and make it seem like the best thing ever.
Things like http://www.freecreditreport.com/ and Barack Obama.
Like I told you--I notice brand as a visual thing first. So, with Obama it started with the "look and feel" of his light blue "Change" sign. It just bugged the crap out of me. The "Yes we Can" circle and slogan and chant. When he came out with the "Office of the President Elect" edition--I groaned outloud and went off on a tirade. In noticed the softer, more modern colors. How different they were than the primary colors politicians typically use. The fonts and composition. His face was part of the brand. His slogans were part of the brand. But never his name (on purpose). The whole "it's not about me, it's about YOU."
Yeah. It wasn't about him or his radical ties or unknown record. His "missing years." It was all about us. But did he really need the fancy branding? Or was the free PR that the media gave him enough? Did the brand actually produce the "trickle" down their leg? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
That's when I realized that there were much larger forces at play. That is was never going to end. After all, brand/positioning is implemented through strategic programs. A complete and comprehensive branding effort means that every decision and appearance is carefully crafted to create a manipulated response. Basically, as long as the guy SAYS the right thing, people don't notice what he actually DOES. Is keen branding a part of this?
From the visual elements to the messaging, I find his branding VERY obvious and VERY heavyhanded.
Now I am looking at the management of the "Obama Brand" and wonder if the same process applies to branding a man/family as applies to branding a company. When a reporter visits the White House--is every thing they see and the order they see things in part of "brand?" Is the reaction to any crisis or concern part of an over-arching strategy?
How do you think the brand-meisters are positioning The One and his crew?
Here are two articles that I found interesting. This Fast Company article is from a year ago. This one about Desirée Rogers, social secretary to the Obamas. Is the retro photo of Ms. Rogers part of the "retro brand?" What do you think?